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Chinese Taipei Open 2018: Ajay Jayaram and Sourabh Verma lead Indian challenge

324   //    02 Oct 2018, 20:34 IST

YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships - Day Two- 2017
Ajay Jayaram

Former India No. 1 men’s singles player, Ajay Jayaram and former Indian national champion, Sourabh Verma will be the biggest Indian players to watch as the main draw action begins at the Yonex Chinese Taipei Open 2018 -- a Super 300 tournament, in Taipei City, on October 3. With the top tournaments in the Asian swing having just concluded and the European swing scheduled to begin in a week, the higher-ranked Indian shuttlers have understandably opted for a much-needed rest and recovery.

The onus is thus on the former World No. 13 Jayaram to carry India’s hopes. The 31-year-old Mumbai shuttler is eager to claw his way back to the top echelons of the sport after a stubborn hamstring injury robbed him of a chunk of the season last year. Consequently, his ranking slipped to outside 100, and he has been steadily building his form and confidence for the past five months.

He made it to the final of the Vietnam Open and the White Nights International that boosted his ranking, pushing him up to No. 58.

Jayaram will hope to keep it going when he takes on Japan’s World No. 114 Hashiru Shimono in the first round of the Chinese Taipei Open. A second round meeting with the seventh seed Lucas Corvee could be followed by a showdown with the fourth seed Hsu Jen Hao. With the latter expected to get a lion’s share of the support, being the home hope, matters could get tough for the Indian.

If he manages to overcome Hsu, the top seed Chou Tien Chen, who won the Korea Open last week, will present Jayaram with an even stiffer challenge in the semi-finals.

Sourabh Verma returned to winning ways this year at the Russian Open after battling with an ankle injury. He also won an Asian Games selection tournament to secure his berth in the Jakarta-bound team.

The World No. 65 has been placed in the bottom-most quarter of the draw and he takes on World No. 146 Chia Hao Lee. While his opponent’s lower ranking should give Sourabh an advantage, the second round looks difficult for him as Verma is likely to meet the second seed Wang Tzu Wei.

Besides the two, India will be represented by Abhishek Yeligar and Rahul Yadav Chittaboina in men’s singles. Yeligar has an uphill task of facing the fifth seed Jan O Jorgensen while Chittaboina meets Lu Chia Hung of Chinese Taipei.

Three Indian youngsters will be playing in the women’s singles section as they look to gain some much-needed experience and match play. Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli begins her campaign against Lin Ying Chun and Sai Uttejitha Rao Chukka will be up against Chiang Ying Li. Mugdha Agrey has the toughest job out of the three as she meets the seventh seed Soniia Cheah.

Tarun Kona is the only Indian doubles exponent playing at this event. The men’s doubles specialist has teamed up with Lim Khim Wah of Malaysia. The fourth seeds Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi wait for them in the opener.