Ajay Jayaram falls at the final hurdle, settles for silver medal at Belgian International Challenge

Fifth seed Ajay Jayaram lost to Ng Tze Yong of Malaysia in the final on Saturday
Fifth seed Ajay Jayaram lost to Ng Tze Yong of Malaysia in the final on Saturday

Ajay Jayaram's spectacular run was halted in the final of the Belgian International Challenge badminton tournament in Leuven on Saturday.

The four-day tournament was organized by the Belgian Badminton Federation under the auspices of Badminton World Federation.

Ajay Jayaram tried hard but it was not enough against an inspired Ng Tze Yong. The unseeded Malaysian shattered Ajay's hopes with a clinical 21-14, 21-14 victory in the men’s singles final.

In a battle between youth and experience, 21-year-old Ng Tze Yong prevailed over 34-year-old Ajay Jayaram in their first-ever meeting, which lasted 33 minutes. In both games, the World No. 74 dictated the terms to emerge victorious, pocketing his second international title of the year.

Fifth seed Ajay Jayaram had carved out some splendid wins over the last three days but found the Malaysian youngster too hot to handle in the final.

"It’s been a good tournament overall for me" - Ajay Jayaram

The last tournament that Ajay Jayaram won was the Dutch Open in 2015. This time around, the Mumbai-based shuttler was aiming to capture the international title after a long gap of six years. Although he fell short in the end, he was pretty happy with the way he performed in the tournament. In an interview with Sportskeeda, Ajay Jayaram said:

“I feel it’s been a good tournament overall for me. I was surprised that my body was able to handle 5 tough matches in 3 days including a few three setters. The fatigue did catch up with me in the finals where I felt I couldn’t play at a hundred percent."

Ajay has been training under former Olympian Anup Sridhar at the Karnataka Badminton Association Academy in Bengaluru for the last few years. Despite the loss, Jayaram kept his spirits high:

“Although I lost the final, there are still a lot of positives to take from here. It will keep me going. I am hoping to keep the momentum going in next week’s Hylo open,” said Ajay Jayaram.

The 2021 Hylo Open will take place at the Saarlandhalle in Saarbrücken, Germany, from November 2 to 7 with total prize money of US$320,000. In 2021, the tournament changed its name from SaarLorLux Open to Hylo Open and was upgraded from a Super 100 tournament to a Super 500.

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