BENGALURU: In April 2017, Ajay Jayaram was on cloud nine with the shuttler attaining his best ranking — World No 13. He was the lone Indian in the top 20 then. But his world came crumbling down with a hamstring injury. Since then, he did not participate in any BWF event after the World Championships in August 2017.
After returning from injury in last year, the two-time Dutch Open champion could not hit top gear straight away. He suffered some early round exits in the India Open, China Masters and Australian Open among others and one began to think if the Chennai-born player will ever get back to his best. Such performances in the Super 100 and 300 tournaments saw him slip to World No 134 — the lowest in his career.
However, Jayaram, who is one of India's quality players, gradually showed glimpses of what he is capable of, reaching the semifinals of the US Open and finals of the Vietnam Open. And those results helped him improve his ranking to 51. But the experienced shuttler has set his sights on getting inside the top 30, which will help him feature in top events around the world.
But he is aware that it cannot happen overnight and the only way to achieve his goal is to deliver in smaller tournaments.
"After my dip in ranking, I am playing mostly in Super 100 and 300 tournaments. And in order to play in the super 500 and above, you need a certain ranking just qualify. Hopefully, I will be able to do well in the coming tournaments and get my ranking higher up to 30 and thus play well in the bigger tournaments, which is my goal in 2019. Considering that I had some good performances in the second half of the 2018 season, it has boosted my confidence. It is also important for me to build on those performances," said Jayaram, who is representing Pune 7 Aces in the Premier Badminton League.
The shuttler has played only two singles matches in the PBL, winning one and losing one. But the PBL gives him a perfect opportunity to know where he stands. also in terms of fitness. As of now, Jayaram wants to train and practice wisely and remain fit. He wants to get back in shape in the next few weeks before giving it his all to feature in competitive events. "I want to get a couple of months of good training and play in some tournaments in February and March. As of now, I want to get back into my peak fitness," said Jayaram.