On an absolutely flawless day for India, all five shuttlers from the country progressed into the second round of the Russian Open 2018 at Vladivostock, Russia. The resurgent Ajay Jayaram led the charge as four other Indians joined him in the men’s singles category of this Super 100 tournament.
The former India No. 1 Jayaram notched up an emphatic 21-14, 21-8 victory over Canada’s World No. 147 Xiaodong Sheng, that took just 25 minutes to complete. Next up for the Mumbai shuttler is the fifth seed and World No. 67 Subhankar Dey in a battle of two Indians.
The two have met previously just once -- in the second round of the 2014 India Grand Prix Gold. Dey caused an upset then, sending the second seeded Jayaram out of the tournament in straight games.
It would be interesting to see if he can repeat that feat. He is currently the higher ranked player, being placed four spots higher than the 71st ranked Jayaram.
However, the former World No. 13 has come to this tournament on the back of a runner-up finish at the White Nights International, where his run was halted by Pablo Abian in three games. It was the 30-year-old's first final on the BWF circuit since the 2016 Dutch Open 21 months ago. Jayaram lost a chunk of the 2017 as well as the 2018 seasons due to a stubborn hamstring injury.
Now fully recovered, he is looking to gain confidence and climb up the ranking chart again.
Apart from Jayaram, the other Indians winning on Day 1 of the Russian Open were Pratul Joshi, Mithun Manjunath, Rahul Yadav Chittaboina, and Siddharth Pratap Singh. Joshi needed just 17 minutes to dismiss the challenge of Jeffrey Lam 21-11, 21-8. Manjunath emerged a 21-14, 21-13 winner over Elia Bracke.
Chittaboina too did not face any trouble from local hope Maksim Makalov and was able to register a 21-11, 21-10 win. Singh prevailed over Malaysia’s Jia Wei Tan 21-17, 21-16.