India’s campaign at the US Open Super 300 badminton tournament came to an end on Saturday as Ajay Jayaram was beaten by sixth seed Mark Caljouw 21-13, 23-21 in the semi-finals.
Ajay, once ranked as high as 13th in the world, has seen his ranking plummet below 100 after a string of injuries following the world championships last year. The 30-year-old has only recently started playing regularly again on the circuit and will be pleased with his progress at the US Open.
Caljouw, ranked 30th in the world, won seven points in a row early in the first game of the semi-final to put it beyond Ajay’s reach. The Dutch shuttler had a 9-4 lead in the second game too before Ajay clawed his way back and kept toe-to-toe with Caljouw right till the end. The score was tied at 21-21 when Caljouw finally managed to win two points in a row and seal the match.
In the women’s singles, top seed Beiwen Zhang of USA fought back from a game and six match points down against Japan’s Aya Ohori to book a spot in the final. The Japanese had won the first game 22-20 and was just one point away from victory at 20-14 in the second, before Zhang won seven points in a row and took the second game 23-21.
Zhang, who had won the India Open earlier this year, then broke away from Ohori in the decider after the Japanese had taken a slender 8-7 lead. Zhang, who has started a crowdfunding campaign to finance her way to the world championships in Nanjing, closed out the decider 21-13 to set up a final against former Olympic champion Li Xuerui of China. Li, on a comeback trail from injury, beat Canada’s Michelle Li 21-17, 21-17 in 44 minutes in the other semi-final.
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