The last time Carolina Marin beat Tai Tzu Ying was in December 2015. Nearly four years later, after six continuous defeats in the meantime and an Anterior Cruciate Ligament surgery later, the reigning Olympic champion was facing the former world No 1 in the final of China Open Super 1000: one of the most prestigious tournaments on the badminton circuit.

Irrespective of how the final was going to pan out on Sunday, it was a stunning comeback to the BWF tour for the Spaniard. And she went and made it better by defending her China Open crown.

Marin beat the former world No 1 in a thrilling final in Changzhou. She won 14-21, 21-17, 21-18 in a match that lasted a little over an hour. She sank on her back and could not stop the tears after converting the match point.

“I cannot describe my feelings right now because I’m so happy,” Marin was quoted as saying by BWF.

Marin had to come back after losing the first game as Tai Tzu Ying looked in prime form.

“There was some frustration with myself in the first game.,” Marin said. “I tried to keep calm. I had to be patient and find the good length on the shuttle. But the most important thing is I could fight until the end. I just waited until she made mistakes. I just wanted to play some long rallies because I knew this match was going to be really tough. She has good strokes, she has so much deception that I had to be careful.”

On her part, the Taiwanese shuttler rued her errors but credited Marin’s tactics.

“The wind was coming from a different direction compared to the past few days. I made quick adjustments at the start of the match but towards the end, she played at a very fast pace. I also made many unforced errors. But I have to admit that she played very well today,” said the world No 4.

Asked if Marin was playing any different after her injury break, Tai said: “I think there’s not much difference, she is still very fast. I also feel that she is more skillful now. I also noticed that she maintained her speed in every match. She is much better at the net and has more variety of shots. I feel that my form is up and down, I try not to think about it too much. My only focus is to stay healthy and to maintain my game form.”