India’s Ajay Jayaram was made to go the distance by unheralded Korean shuttler Yun Kyu Lee in the first round of the US Open badminton tournament in Fullerton, California, on Wednesday.
Ajay, who was ranked as high as 13th in the world in September last year before plummeting to his current placement of 132 because of a hamstring injury, was stretched by world No 368 Lee for nearly an hour before winning 26-24, 17-21, 21-13. The 30-year-old Indian will face world No 31 Ygor Coelho of Brazil in the second round.
Ajay is the only Indian alive at the tournament as men’s doubles second seeds Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy pulled out ahead of their first-round match. In the women’s singles, world No 104 Anura Prabhudesai was beaten in straight games by 42nd-ranked Canadian Rachel Honderich 9-21, 17-21.
Earlier, Indian shuttlers HS Prannoy, Sameer Verma and P Kashyap all pulled out of the tournament before it started. World No 8 Prannoy, the defending champion, decided to skip the event to be in best shape for more prestigious tournaments, including the Malaysia Open, the Indonesia Open, the World Championship and the Asian Games.