Kidambi Srikanth's hopes of ending a long title drought came crashing after going down in straight games to former world champion Viktor Axelsen in the men's singles final of the Yonex-Sunrise India Open, on Sunday.
Srikanth, a 2015 winner, blew away two game points in the second game to lose 7-21 20-22 to Axelsen in the summit clash.
It was the Indian's first final in a BWF world tour event in 17 months. He last won a title at the 2017 French Open.
"I haven't played anything differently and so I lost. I should have tried something different," Srikanth said after the loss.
"I think I gave him too many chances to attack in the first game and tried to avoid it in the second and it was okay till the 20th point. If I could have taken it to the decider, I could have had my chances."
"I was slow to start with. I was able to control my lifts and defend well but in the end, he was a little brave."
The final was a close affair in the beginning with Srikanth and Axelsen splitting the initial 10 points but a series of unforced errors from the Indian allowed the Danish player to move ahead as he unleashed a smash to seal an 11-7 advantage at the break.
Srikanth failed to engage his rival in rallies with Axelsen punishing any weak return. The Indian's backhand was particularly weak and he lost a lot of points there. Axelsen eventually took the opening game when Srikanth went long.
After the change of sides, Srikanth conceded a 1-5 lead to his opponent early on. The Indian took the next three points but Axelsen was always a step ahead. With Srikanth's lifts going long coupled with some wrong line calls, Axelsen grabbed a 11-9 lead at the break.
A fighting Srikanth, however, clawed his way back to make it 12-12 and led 14-13 after Axelsen smashed wide.
Another smash helped Srikanth grab two game points. He lost both with a wide return and after failing to connect a shot. A net dribble gave Axelsen his first match point and he sealed it with a precise return.
Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon improved her head-to-head record against China's He Bingjiao with a 21-15 21-14 win, completing a hattrick of India Open crowns. She equalled Malaysian legend Lee Chong Wei, who has also won three titles here.
Chinese top seed Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping notched up a 21-13 21-11 win over Indonesian fifth seeds Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti to claim the mixed doubles crown.
Top seeded Indonesian pair of Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu secured their second successive title at the India Open with a 21-11 25-23 win over Malaysian third seeds Chow Mei Kuan and Lee Meng Yean in the women's doubles.
Chinese Taipei's Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin also claimed their maiden BWF World Tour Super 500 title with a 21-14 21-14 win over Indonesian Ricky Karandasuwardi and Angga Pratama in men's doubles.