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Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal went down fighting to top-ranked Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei in the women's singles final of the Denmark Open at Odense on Sunday.
The Chinese Taipei girl started as the overwhelming favourite against the Asian Games bronze medallist. But the 28-year-old Indian, after losing the first game 13-21, forced a decider by winning the second game with an identical margin.
In the decider, the World No 1 showed why she is regarded as one of the best ever in the women's circuit. A 21-6 humbling. Nehwal, who won the tournament in 2012, lost the match 13-21, 21-13, 6-21 in 52 minutes.
In their 18 meetings, Tai has now won 13 times with Nehwal's last win coming way back in March 2013 at the Swiss Open. In these five years, Tai has defeated Nehwal 11 times.
This year alone, Tai has beaten Nehwal five times. In the four previous meetings in 2018, Tai won all four matches in straight games – at Indonesia Masters (final 9-21, 3-21), Asian Games (semi-final 17-21, 14-21), Asia Championship (semi-final 25-27, 19-21) and All England (R32 14-21, 18-21).
Nehwal herself had admitted that Tai is the toughest opponent she has ever faced.
Earlier in the tournament, Nehwal had defeated World No 2 Akane Yamaguchi and World No 7 Nozomi Okuhara en route to the semis.
In the men's singles final, World No 1 and second-seed Kento Momota of Japan survived a three-game thriller against fourth-seed Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei, winning the match 22-20, 16-21, 21-15 in one hour and 17 minutes.