India’s Ajay Jayaram hogged the limelight on every day of the Victor Korea Open until he was beaten in the final on the last day of the BWF super-series tournament. Though no player wants to lose any match, there was no shame in the loss, as Jayaram’s conqueror was none other than the great Chen Long. The Chinese is the world’s best badminton player not just by his no.1 world rank but in the skills of the game and the terrific consistency in recent times. Chen Long won the World Championship but suffered an odd loss at the Yonex Japan open. Otherwise, Chen Long has the best credentials of all the top players, including compatriot Lin Dan and former world no.1 Malaysian Lee Chong Wei. Jayaram’s sensational run at Victor Korea Open 2015, began with his first round triumph over Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen. Jayaram kept winning his matches until he entered his first ever World Super-series final. Three other Indians, K Srikanth, Parupalli Kashyap and HS Prannoy fell in the first round. In women’s singles too, PV Sindhu exited in the second round after upsetting third seeded Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand in the first.
The BWF Super-series Victor Korea Open had a sensational opening, when Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei failed to qualify on the first day. Lee went down 19-21, 19-21 to a Young Korean Heo Kwang Hee, who was the 2013 World Junior champion. Lee was a bit sluggish and his usually sharp shots missed their marks. Lee could have bounced back in the second game, when he led 19-16, but with a series of errors, he allowed Heo to snatch five points in a row. For Lee, it was the earliest exit in a World Super-series event and his loss should count as the upset of the year. Lee’s woes were shared by Japan’s former world no.1 Kenichi Tago, who also lost in the first round of qualifying to Indonesia’s Ihsan Maulana Mustofa.
The first day’s show was stolen by India’s Ajay Jayaram and PV Sindhu in their first round matches. While Jayaram demolished sixth seeded Viktor Axelsen 21-15, 21-15, Sindhu caused another major upset by defeating Thailand’s no.3 seed Ratchnok Intanon in three sets 21-19, 21-23, 21-13 in 69 minutes. But while Sindhu fell in the second round to Japan’s Sayaka Takahashi, Jayaram continued his forward march. He defeated Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki Vincent 17-21, 21-15, 21-15 in the second round and Japan’s Sho Sasaki 21-19, 16-21, 21-16 in the quarterfinal. Jayaram reached his crowning glory in his semifinal encounter with no.7 seed Chou Tien Chen. The Taiwanese was flummoxed by the Indian, who dominated the match to win at 21-19, 21-15. The Indian thus made his maiden appearance in a BWF Super-series final and it amounted to a great achievement since the men’s singles field also had the likes of Lin Dan, Viktor Axelsen, Kento Momota, K Srikanth, Parupalii Kashyap Son Wan Ho and many other more accomplished players.
In the final against the redoubtable Chen Long, Jayaram’s fairytale run got stalled as the Chinese played a far superior game in keeping with his reputation. Jayaram started with a smash but committed a series of errors to lose unnecessary points. Even Chen Long was a bit erratic in the beginning as they tied at 4-4 early in the opening game. The Chinese, however, found his rhythm and thriving on Jayaram’s errors jumped to a 9-5 lead. But the Indian produced some sparks of brilliance to claw back at 9-9. That, however, was not enough against an opponent of a proven caliber. Afterwards, the 27-year-old Indian could not keep his nerves and eventually lost to Chen Long 14-21, 13-21 in 39 minutes.
The women’s singles title was taken by the Korean sixth seed Sung Ji-Hyun, who kept battling for 78 minutes against China’s fourth seed Wanh Yihan before prevailing 21-14, 17-21, 21-18. As expected, men’s doubles crown was won by Korean top seeds Lee Yong-Dae/YooYeon-Seong, who had no issues against compatriots Kim Gi-Jung/Kim Sa-Rang in an easy 21-16, 21-12 victory. The women’s doubles title was won by Indonesia’s Nitya Krishinda Maheswari/Greysia Polii. The sixth seeded Indonesians defeated the unseeded Korean pair of Chang Ye Na/Lee So Hee 21-15, 21-18. China’s top seeds Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei won the mixed doubles crown in an overwhelming 21-16, 21-15 victory over Indonesia’s Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir.
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