Ajay Jayaram provided a scintillating start to India’s World Championships campaign here Monday when the world number 24 stunned higher-ranked Wing Ki Wong of Hong Kong in the men’s singles first round.
Jayaram, who had reached the pre-quarterfinals of the event's last edition in 2011, battled fatigue and lapse in concentration to get the better of Wong 22-20, 17-21, 21-15 in a 64-minute duel. He will take on Spain’s Pablo Abian in the second round.
"It was a good match. I knew it won't be easy and I had to give everything. I tried to be patient as the shuttles were slow," Ajay said.
The 25-year-old from Mumbai, who had lost to Wong in their only earlier meeting in 2011, was first to get off the blocks and that helped him race to a handsome lead in the opening game. It looked he would pocket the game rather easily with four game points until Wong fought back to level scores before Jayaram regrouped and took the next two points and the game.
The Chennai-born shuttler played a dominating game and didn't allow Wong to get near him at the Tianhe Indoor Stadium. However, Wong was not ready to let it go so easily as he clawed back but Ajay had the last laugh.
"I started off well and maintained a good lead throughout the first game. I committed a few errors at 20-16 which helped him to draw level at 20-20. But I am happy I could squeeze past him with a couple of tight points," Ajay said.
However, in the second game, Ajay let go a 13-8 lead to allow Wong forge a comeback into the contest. "In the second game, I was 13-8 up but he started playing more rallies and I lost my patience. I eventually lost my lead at 17. I was struggling with my fitness as I had recovered from viral fever a week back," he said.
The world number 12 hit back in the second game by engaging in long rallies, taking the match to the decider.
The Indian showed the maturity to handle the pressure exerted by his opponent to win a tight contest.
However, India's doubles and mixed doubles pairs had a bad day in office as they failed to cross the first hurdle.
While the combinations of Aparna Balan and Arun Vishnu lost to Chinese Taipei's Min Chun Liao and Hsiao Huan Chen 15-21 17-21 in the mixed doubles, Ashwini Ponnappa and Tarun Kona suffered a 18-21 21-12 19-21 defeat to Japan's Hirokatsu Hashimoto and Miyuki Maeda in the opening round.
In the women's doubles, Aparna and Siki Reddy N too lost in the opening round, going down to England's Lauren Smith and Gabrielle White 15-21 17-21 in 34 minutes.
2010 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Parupalli Kashyap will play later in the day, while the women’s singles stars - Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu - have received a bye in the first round.
Ajay Jayaram bt 12-Wing Ki Wong (HKG) 22-20, 17-21, 21-15
Aparna Balan/Arun Vishnu lost to Min Chun Liao/Hsiao Huan Chen (TPE) 21-16, 21-16
Ashwini Ponnappa/Tarun Kona lost to Miyuki Maeda/Hirokatsu Hashimoto 21-18, 12-21, 21-19
Aparna Balan/N Sikki Reddy lost to Lauren Smith/Gabrielle White 21-15, 21-17