Malaysia Open: Indian challenge ends with Ajay Jayaram's loss
The Indian campaign came to an end at the $600,000 Celcom Axiata Malaysia Open as Ajay Jayaram crashed out in the quarter-finals of the Superseries Premier tournament at Kuching, Malaysia on Friday.
The India No. 1 men's singles player was the only one to reach this far but he could not continue his brilliant run and went down 18-21, 14-21 to the fifth seed and World No. 5 Son Wan Ho of Korea in 37 minutes.
The 29-year-old had notched up a big upset win in the second round where he toppled the World No. 2 Viktor Axelsen, 9-21, 21-14, 21-19. The Dane had won the India Open Superseries title on Sunday and had even beaten Jayaram en route to the crown. But the Indian made a stunning comeback after being blown away in the opening game to knock out the in-form Dane.
However, Son Wan Ho had always been a bad match-up for the 20th ranked Ajay, who had a 0-3 losing head-to-head record against the Korean prior to this latest showdown. Even though the Indian did fight hard and made it a close first game, the fifth seed was able to clinch the match in straight games.
Saina, Sindhu had exited in first round
The Malaysia Open turned out to be quite a disappointment for the Indian contingent after the high of the India Open where Sindhu went on to win the title that catapulted her to a career-best World No. 2 ranking. The Rio Olympic silver medallist looked close to continuing her winning streak even here but was unable to do so despite being two points away from the win against rising Chinese shuttler Chen Yufei.
The reigning junior world champion came back to edge Sindhu 18-21, 21-19, 21-17, thus ending her five-match winning streak.
Saina Nehwal too suffered a shock 21-19, 13-21, 15-21 first round exit after squandering a one-game lead to the fourth seed Akane Yamaguchi of Japan.
The next tournament for Indian players is the Singapore Open Superseries which is scheduled from April 11-16. While the fifth-seeded Sindhu starts off things against the former All England Championships winner Nozomi Okuhara, the unseeded Nehwal will open her campaign against a qualifier.