An error-prone Saina Nehwal failed to maintain her unbeaten run as she went down to Xin Wang of China 13-21, 21-8, 21-14 in the final of the Malaysia Grand Prix Gold Badminton tournament in Alor Setar on Sunday.
The world No 4 went into the title round with a 10-0 win-loss record since 2006 and began in right earnest when she raced through the opening game against a player ranked one place higher.
The Commonwealth Games gold-medallist controlled the opening game with a mixture of drops and well-placed winners, but the change in sides altered the fortunes of the Indian as well. "Saina struggled to control the shuttle from the faster side and, with every mistake, lost her confidence," coach Bhaskar Babu told HT from Malaysia.
Saina too admitted she wasn't mentally strong to resurrect the situation after dropping points at crucial junctures. "I made too many mistakes, especially in the second game. I was bothered by two line calls in the third game and paid the price," said the Hyderabad girl, who has now lost all three matches against Xin.
"I should have kept my cool… it is a good lesson for me," said the 20-year-old, who was looking to bag her second title of the year after clinching the Swiss Grand Prix Gold crown in March.
Despite the loss, Saina went a long way in exorcising the ghosts of the first-round loss in the India Super Series last week, where she struggled against Japan's Ai Goto. Immediately, doubts were raised over her recovery from an ankle injury.
However, the ankle did not trouble her in Malaysia and Saina would now be looking to lead India in the Sudirman Cup mixed team championship later this month.