JAKARTA • Carolina Marin produced a brilliant display to retain her world badminton title yesterday but the Spaniard's 21-16, 21-19 win over Saina Nehwal was slightly marred on the podium.
Draped in her country's flag, the 22-year-old looked somewhat embarrassed when the Franco-era Spanish national anthem - instead of the modern one which does not contain any lyrics - was played in the Jakarta arena.
The online edition of Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo immediately called the use of the old anthem, which is associated with Franco's right-wing dictatorship, a "serious mistake on the part of the tournament organisers".
The Badminton World Federation and the hosts, the Indonesia Badminton Association, moved quickly to apologise for the error.
But just like how Marin had handled her injury-riddled build-up to the tournament, she took the error in her stride, looking straight ahead and smiling as the red-and-yellow Spanish flag was raised.
The world No. 1 had struggled through the early rounds and rolled her ankle in her third-round match on Thursday. But she looked pain-free and was at her peak by the time she faced Nehwal.
The Indian second seed got off to fast starts in both games, racing to leads of 7-4 and 12-6 respectively.
But Marin was adept at stringing together quick points and rallied each time to overhaul a woman who was seeking to claim her country's first-ever world title.
She burst into tears and collapsed on the court as Nehwal's final shot sailed out, delivering the Spaniard the title she was not sure she would ever defend.
"I didn't think I would be here when I was struggling with my injuries but my coaches said I should keep training and try to play at the World Championships and just do the best I could in the tournament," she said after the 59-minute clash.
"I knew from the beginning it was going to be a very tough match because Saina is really good but I kept fighting until the end and am very happy with my performance today," she added.
It was her fourth title of the season, having also pipped Nehwal to the All England crown.
Marin had also claimed titles at both the Malaysia and Australian Opens when she defeated opponents from China.
Yesterday was only the second time a Chinese player had not featured in the women's singles final since the Asian badminton powerhouses began competing at the World Championships in 1983.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE