BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) - Carolina Marin of Spain staged a remarkable comeback to land the All-England Championships crown on Sunday as Saina Nehwal blew the chance to become India’s first female winner.
In the men’s final, world champion Chen Long captured the title for the second time in three years as he overcame charismatic Dane Jan O Jorgensen 15-21 21-17 21-15.
It was China’s eighth men’s singles title in the event since 2005.
Olympic bronze medalist Nehwal threw away a 6-1 lead in the second game before world champion Marin pressed the throttle to triumph 16-21 21-14 21-7.
“It is an amazing feeling,” Marin told reporters. “I was making too many easy mistakes and was really nervous at the start but I just wanted to enjoy it.
“In the second game and at 11-9 down I felt there was a change and that I could win.”
Nehwal played down expectations before her final but interest was such that former Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar wished her luck on Twitter.
She was bidding to become the first All-England singles winner from India since her former coach Pullela Gopichand won the men’s title 14 years ago.
After a tentative start Nehwal opened an 11-6 lead, offering stout defense against Marin’s attacking forays to the net.
She soon held eight game points before Marin finally found some rhythm to win four rallies in a row, though Nehwal finished the game with a smash from the net.
Marin’s game failed to materialize in the early throes of the second. At 3-1 down she saw a shot from Nehwal land in, went wide with a smash on the next point before a fierce winner from the Indian opened a five-point lead.
But Marin began to find her rhythm and at 8-4 down secured a run of eight successive points as Nehwal ran out of ideas.
Chen said he was always confident of rallying after conceding the opening game to Jorgensen.
“I kept calm and didn’t rush,” said the 26-year-old Chen. “I played tighter and didn’t let in distractions.”
The Dane, aiming to become the first European to win the title since 1999, proved an obdurate opponent in a fluctuating match.
“Jorgensen is tough but Lin Dan is right up there,” said world number one Chen of the multiple record holder.
“He is the best and biggest rival. I really want to catch all his records.”
Editing by Martyn Herman and Tony Jimenez