What's the story?
Indian badminton player Ajay Jayaram was defeated in the semi-finals of the Badminton World Tour (BWF) Barcelona Spain Masters 2020. With this defeat, the Indian challenge ended at the tournament as none of the other Indian players had made it to the semi-finals of the event.
In case you didn't know
The Barcelona Spain Masters 2020 is being held at the Vall D'Hebron Olympic Sports Centre in Barcelona, Spain from 18th to 23rd February. It is a Super 300 event of the BWF World Tour.
The Indian shuttlers took part in the tournament across all the events (men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles) with the hope of garnering BWF ranking points to improve their chances of qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Unfortunately, only Ajay Jayaram in the men's singles event made it to the semi-final stage with all the other players across events getting knocked out earlier.
Heart of the matter
India's Ajay Jayaram was defeated in the semi-finals of the BWF World Tour Barcelona Spain Masters 2020. He lost to three-times World Junior Champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand in straight games 20-22, 12-21.
Ajay, who had upset India's star badminton player Kidambi Srikanth earlier in the tournament, was the only surviving Indian in the tournament after Saina Nehwal and Sameer Verma lost their respective quarter-final matches.
Ajay, who is currently ranked 68 in the world, put up a good fight in the first game but could not put much of a resistance in the second game with his Thai opponent running away with the game and match.
The first game was a closely fought affair with both players going neck and neck till the mid-game interval with Ajay leading 11-10 at the break. After the interval, Kunlavut won 4 points in a row to take a 14-11 lead and stretched it to 17-14.
Ajay then reeled off 5 points in a row to take a 19-17 lead. But he could not maintain the momentum as the game went to extra points with both players tied at 20-20.
It was a dramatic end to the 1st game with the final point being decided on an umpire's review as the lines-person was unsighted and couldn't make a call.
Unfortunately, the review went against the Indian and he lost the game 20-22.
The Thai player was more dominant in the second game and took an early 6-2 lead. Although Ajay fought back briefly, it was Kunlavut who went to the mid-game interval with an 11-7 lead.
The Thai shuttler was totally dominant after the interval and ran away with the game and sealed the match 22-20, 21-12.
It was a creditable performance by Ajay Jayaram in the tournament. He will be hoping to continue this good form in the upcoming tournaments on the BWF World Tour.
The other Indians, especially Saina and Srikanth, would be hoping to put up a better display in the upcoming tournaments.
Their performances in all these tournaments would be crucial as they make a bid to improve their rankings in order to qualify for the Olympics.
They will have to come up with some exceptional performances to make it to the quadrennial event.