Badminton: Ajay Jayaram battles into quarter-finals of US Open, Lin Dan knocked out

Ajay defeated Brazil’s Ygor Coelho 19-21, 21-12, 21-16 in the second round on Thursday.

India’s Ajay Jayaram played his second successive three-game match at the US Open Super 300 badminton tournament as he beat Brazil’s Ygor Coelho 19-21, 21-12, 21-16 in the second round on Thursday.

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 Yun Kyu Lee for nearly an hour in the first round on Wednesday before winning 26-24, 17-21, 21-13.

The match against Coelho was relatively more straightforward. The first game was a tight one as both players went neck-and-neck right until the end before the Brazilian nicked it 21-19. However, the gruelling game seemed to have taken a toll on the world No 31 as he succumbed to a 12-21 loss in the second game.

The decider was again a keenly contested affair until the score was level at 14-14. From here, Ajay won four points in a row to make it 18-14 in his favour, and that was that. The 30-year-old won the game 21-16 to seal the match and a spot in the quarter-finals, where he will take on world No 70 Heo Kwang Hee of South Korea. Heo defeated third seed Brice Leverdez 23-21, 21-12 in the second round.

In the women’s singles, the returning Li Xuerui defeated world No 13 and second seed Sayaka Sato 22-20, 21-9 to reach the quarter-finals. The 2012 Olympic champion, currently ranked 141st in the world, has only recently returned to the circuit after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament during the 2016 Olympics.

Li’s first tournament on her return was the China Masters in April, which she went on to win. The 27-year-old then represented her country at the Uber Cup, where China lost in the semi-finals. The US Open is only her third tournament since returning to the circuit and she will next take on seventh seed Kim Hyo Min in the quarter-finals.

Earlier, on Wednesday, men’s singles top seed and two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan was shocked in the first round itself by another Korean, the world No 38 Lee Dong Keun, who took the opening game 21-13. Lin Dan was trailing 12-19 in the second game when he decided to retire.

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