Sania Mirza's quest for a maiden individual gold medal at the Asian Games went up in smoke as she suffered a heart-breaking defeat against China's Jie Zheng in a high-voltage women's singles tennis final in Doha on Wednesday.
The 20-year-old Sania, who had not conceded a single set en route to her march to the final, floundered at the final hurdle as her higher-ranked opponent recorded a 6-4 1-6 6-1 victory in the summit showdown which lasted one hour and 49 minutes at the Khalifa International stadium.
Sania, ranked 66th in the world, had to be content with a silver medal and had herself to blame for the debacle as she committed as many as 45 unforced errors to allow Zheng to wriggle out of tight situations.
The result came as a huge disappointment for the large crowd, mainly comprising flag-waving Indian expatriates, who vociferously cheered the Indian star right through the contest held under a blazing sun.
The second-seeded Zheng, ranked 33 in the world, made amends for compatriot and top seed Na Li's stunning ouster in the semi-final after a defeat to Sania. It is the first time that Zheng has won an Asian Games individual medal.