Indian shuttler Ajay Jayaram notched up a stunning three-game victory over higher-ranked Japanese Sho Sasaki to reach the men’s singles semifinals of the Korea Open Super Series badminton tournament on Friday.
Going into the match with a 1-2 head-to-head record, Jayaram eked out a 21-19 16-21 21-16 win over world number 26 Sasaki in a match that lasted one hour and five minutes.
The world number 32 Indian will next take on the winner of the match between China’s Tian Houwei and Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen, seeded seventh.
The Dutch Open winner Indian showed tremendous grit as he fought back from 3-11 down in the first game to claw back with a eight-point burst and even though Sasaki once again marched ahead and held his lead till 19-17, Jayaram sealed the opening game by reeling off another four points on the trot.
Jayaram surged ahead to a 6-1 lead in the second game but this time it was Sasaki who drew parity with five straight points and then broke off at 10-10 to eventually roar back into the contest.
The decider was a hard-fought contest as the duo engaged in a fierce fight right from the start. The Japanese held a slender lead at 9-6 at one stage but Jayaram kept breathing down his neck and finally surpassed Sasaki from 12-12 before sealing the issue in his favour comfortably.
Jayaram had reached the semifinals of Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold, Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold and Russian Open Grand Prix this season.
After his match, Jayaram said: “It was another hard fought win today( on Thursday). I didn’t start great today. A string of errors gave him an early 11-3 lead. I did well to change the pace and slow down the game after that to get back and eventually clinch the first set at 19.
“Even though I took an early 6-1 lead in the 2nd set I couldn’t maintain the discipline. He played well at the net and prevented me from taking control.”
“In the final set, however, I did well to mix my attack and opened out the game much better. Definitely happy to have pulled through today. I’m looking forward to another hard match tomorrow,” he added.