Aamir Ghaffar also saw his hopes of a third title spoilt when he was beaten by the top-seeded Rajiv Ouseph, his fellow Middlesex player who credits him with having helped his career.
Ouseph’s 21-15, 12-21, 21-11 victory was a triumph over his own self-doubt as well as an opponent who is beginning to making another surge after letting slip some of the fitness which has earned him some notable scalps.
His play contained some sudden wristy smashes as well as the deft strokes and touches which have usually characterized his play. It gave a more potent quality to his game, though there more many phases when Ghaffar was able to wrest the attacking initiative from him with fierce, flat mid-court jabs and whips and eye-catching jump smashes.
One of them pulled a three-point deficit back to 15-16 in the first game, but Ouseph accelerated away to take it with the help of two good smashes and two forecourt kills.
That tipped the odds significantly the way of Ouseph, given the doubts about Ghaffar’s capacity to go the distance, but the former champion nevertheless dominated a second game which contained one rally of such dramatic swings between defence and attack at 13-9 that a slightly somnolent audience burst into spontaneous applause.
But the start of the third saw Ghaffar go off the boil, and by the time he was 0-6 and 1-11 down his hopes had been effectively flattened. Ouseph, confidence rising again, was now playing his best badminton, and the most Ghaffar could offer was to fight bravely till the end.
“I’m very pleased because I was a little bit nervous going into it,” admitted the 21-year-old winner. “It was good to play Aamir who has helped me my whole career and I hope we can be in a winning England team in the Thomas Cup (later this month)”.
The fifth-seeded Ghaffar appeared to feel that in the circumstances he had done well. “It was a tough day,” he said. “I am getting fitter slowly and slowly.
“People thought I could not last three sets so hopefully I have dispelled that idea. I thought he would be tired but he came out fast.”