Dubai: P V Sindhu suffered yet another final loss, going down fighting against World No. 2 Akane Yamaguchi of Japan in a pulsating women's singles summit clash of the Dubai Super Series Final here.
In the prestigious season-ending tournament finale, Sindhu played her hearts out before losing 21-15 12-21 19-21 to Yamaguchi in an energy-sapping summit clash that lasted an hour and 31 minutes.
The 22-year-old came agonisingly close to clinching the title before finishing runner-up once again in her third major tournament, following last year's Rio Olympics and this year's Glasgow World Championship.
In scenes similar to the World Championship final in Glasgow in August, the summit clash here went down to the wire as the duo engaged in a battle of attrition and nerves.
"I was not thinking about the longest match but then after the match, it left me with a bad feeling that it was just like the match against Okuhara," said Sindhu, who had finished as runner-up at Hong Kong Open as well in November.
"Yamaguchi's style was more of rally and I was prepared for it. I knew it would be a long match."
Playing her fourth final of the season, Sindhu logged the first point with a magnificent down the line smash. However, a couple of unforced errors and a wrong judgement at the baseline allowed Yamaguchi to make it 3-2.
A lucky netchord gave another point to the Japanese. However, Sindhu unleashed a superb cross court smash to draw parity at 5-5.
The Indian went wide next and another lucky net chord saw Yamaguchi open a 7-5 lead. The Japanese produced another cross court return to gain another point before Sindhu grabbed six straight points to turn the tables.
Sindhu won a couple of points before levelling 8-8 after closing out a pulsating rally, consisting of 33 shots, with a overhead return. She led 10-8 before entering the break with a three-point advantage after producing another scintillating cross court smash on her rival's backhand.
After the interval, Sindhu moved to 13-8 after grabbing two points. Yamaguchi grabbed three points, which included a successful video referral, to narrow the lead to 11-14. The racquet slipped out of Sindhu's hand and then she found the net as Yamaguchi breathed down her neck at 13-14.
The Japanese, however, could not capilatise as she hit wide and Sindhu unleashed two sensational returns, including a quick return on serve, to once again open up a five-point cushion.
The Indian finally earned seven game point opportunities with a quick smash near the court. Yamaguchi saved two game points before Sindhu's cross court smash came to her rescue as the Indian pocketed the first game in 23 minutes.
In second game, Sindhu came out all cylinders blazing as she zoomed to a 5-0 lead. However, the Indian was called for a service fault and she ended up giving another point to her rival, before a wide shot from the Japanese took her to 6-2.
A couple of unforced errors by Sindhu allowed Yamaguchi to narrow the gap to 7-8. The Japanese then set up the next point superbly, closing it with a body smash to draw parity at 8-8.
Yamaguchi then opened up a 10-8 lead after winning another exhausting rally before entering the break with a two-point advantage.