Birmingham: Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal’s quest for becoming the first Indian woman to win the most prestigious All England badminton championship ended in agony after she suffered a heart-breaking loss to Spain’s Carolina Marin in the summit clash here on Sunday.

Nehwal let go of a huge opportunity to script history as she squandered an opening game lead to go down 21-16, 14-21, 7-21 to the reigning world champion in the women’s singles final that lasted for little over an hour.

Olympic bronze medallist Nehwal, thus, failed to emulate her long-time coach Pullella Gopichand (2001) and legendary Prakash Padukone (1980), who had won the prestigious title in the past.

Nehwal, who has been competing at the All England since 2007, had never lost to Marin and looked on course for an encore before the World No. 6 Spaniard scripted a remarkable comeback in the second game to put paid to the Indian’s hopes at the Barclaycard Arena.

After dominating the opening game completely, Nehwal was leading 11-9 in the second but lost steam after the break, as Marin fought back brilliantly and bagged eight out of the last nine points.

In the decider, Marin stamped her authority with her sharp smashes and better movement to completely make it a one-sided contest as Saina could only watch her hopes went up in smoke.

After suffering heartbreaks at the semifinals of the event in 2010 and 2013, it was yet another case of so near yet so far for the girl from Hyderabad, who has at least 16 international titles in her kitty.

Nehwal had in fact defeated the very same opponent in the finals of the Syed Modi International championship at Lucknow in January early this year and started as the hot favourite in Sunday’s final.