COPENHAGEN (AFP) - Spain's Carolina Marin pulled off a monumental upset as she beat Chinese world number one Li Xuerui to win the women's singles title at the Badminton World Championships in Copenhagen on Sunday.
The 21-year-old ninth seed recovered from dropping the opening game to the top seed and Olympic champion to complete an incredible 17-21, 21-17, 21-18 victory and earn her country its first ever major title in the sport.
Li had rarely looked in trouble during her run to the final and she again looked at ease with her terrific stroke play proving too much for the tenacious Marin in the opening game. However, the Spaniard, reigning European champion, was undeterred and came out positively at the start of the second set as she established an early lead before Li reeled her back in.
This time though Marin responded by taking the attack to her opponent for whom the nerves perhaps began to take hold as Li began to misfire more regularly.
From 15-all Marin upped her standards and carved out three set points at 20-17 before levelling the contest as Li hit wide.
The Chinese regrouped in the third game and inched 14-11 ahead but once more Marin refused to cave in as the world number 10 fought her way back to 15-all after edging an incredible rally.
Play paused for Li to seek treatment on her right ankle with Marin 16-15 ahead and the Spaniard crept further in front once the contest resumed. A foul serve cost Marin a point before Li's resilient defence enabled her to pull things back to 17-all.
A delicate touch shot then handed Marin lead once more before she intercepted a cross-court pass to move to within two points of an improbable victory.
Li then drilled long to make it 20-18 in favour of Marin who then fell to the court in delight on the subsequent point as Li planted her shot into the net with the Spaniard becoming the first European women's world singles champion since Denmark's Camilla Martin in 1999.
For Li it was yet another agonising defeat after she fell at the final hurdle a year ago on home soil in Guangzhou to Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon. Earlier, China extended their dominance in women's doubles as Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei claimed won the country's 12th straight gold medal in the event.
Fifth seeds Tian and Zhao added a world title to their Olympic crown by defeating compatriots Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli 21-19, 21-15 in the final.
Meanwhile South Korea struck gold in the men's doubles as Ko Sung-hyun and Shin Baek-choel, the 12th seeds in Denmark, beat fellow countrymen Lee Yong-dae and Yoo Yeon-seong 22-20, 21-23, 21-18 in a pulsating 79-minute encounter to record their first major title together.