Indian badminton player Ajay Jayaram's fairytale run at the Korean Open Super Series event came to an end with the Indian losing to defending champion and world number one Chen Long of China in the final of the $600,000 tournament on Sunday.
After producing a giant-killing run to earn a maiden Super Series final appearance, Jayaram failed to breach the Chinese wall as his fight ended with a 14-21, 13-21 loss to current world champion Long in the 40-minute men's singles final.
En route to the summit showdown, Jayaram punched above his weight, stunning the likes of world number six Dane Viktor Axelsen, Japan's Sho Sasaki and Chinese Taipei's Chou Tien Chen to set up a title clash with Long, an opponent he had lost to at the Hong Kong Open last year.
Jayaram, who is coached by Tom John in Bangalore, could not produce the same skill and tenacity that took him to the finals as he succumbed to a series of unforced errors to go down in his toughest test in the tournament and end runner-up.
Jayaram started with a smash but stumbled on a series of errors to lose points. Long was equally erratic in the beginning as both led 4-4 early on in the opening game. Long, however, quickly regrouped and started dominating proceedings as his smashes got sharper and he thrived on the Indian's error to lead 9-5.
Jayaram showed occasional sparks of brilliance and left Long completely stranded with a deceptive jump shot at 7-9 and with that clawed back at 9-9. However, Long produced two powerful smashes to go into the break with a two-point advantage.
After a talk with chief coach Pullela Gopichand, Jayaram came up with a cross court smash but hit long next. The Chinese jumped and smashed in every opportunity he got, while Jayaram looked to accumulate points with some sharp deception.
Despite leading 4-2 in the second set, Jayaram failed to keep up the momentum as he found the world champion too strong to overcome.
The 27-year-old Bangalore-based shuttler had reached the semi-finals of Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold, Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold and Russian Open Grand Prix earlier this season.
(With inputs from ANI)