World No.27 Ajay Jayaram squandered a game point in the first game to go down 23-25, 13-21 to the 20th ranked Korean Lee Hyun Il in the quarter-finals of the Korea Open Superseries in Seoul on Friday. The match lasted 44 minutes. With Ajay’s exit, the Indian campaign at this tournament comes to an end.
The 2015 runner-up Jayaram had never beaten the Korean in their past two meetings. In their very last showdown that happened at the Canada Open this year, Jayaram managed to win just a total of 17 points.
Despite the obvious discomfort in facing such an opponent, Ajay did a commendable job in the opening game and pushed Lee hard. From 4-4, Ajay played some brilliant smashes and asserted himself early on for an 11-8 lead at the mid-game interval.
But he could not keep the Korean in check for a long time who stormed back to level 14-14. Lee then ran away to lead 20-17 with three game points in hand. That is where the game became more exciting.
Ajay displayed some tremendous resilience to save all three of them and evened the score, 20-20. The game then continued in that fashion with none wanting to concede the lead.
The Indian saved two more game points through some fantastic returns right at Lee’s body before having a game point of his won at 23-22. But he let it go through an error and Lee did not need a second chance to take the hard-fought game, 25-23.
The Korean continued in the same vein even in the second game. With some fiery aggression, he inched ahead to 11-8 at the lemon break. Ajay’s problems were compounded further as his error count kept on mounting.
With the Indian looking extremely frustrated at the other end, it was only a matter of a few minutes before the calm Lee would go on to take the game. From 19-12, the World No. 20 quickly soared to 20-13 and converted on his very first match point as Ajay fumbled at the net.
Jayaram was the only Indian to have reached this far. Kidambi Srikanth, HS Prannoy and Parupalli Kashyap had all bowed out in the first round while B Sai Praneeth made it through to the second round where he lost.