We can reach knockout stage at Thomas Cup: Jayaram

New Delhi: Excited to represent India in the Thomas Cup at Macau next week, country`s top shuttler Ajay Jayaram today exuded confidence that the team can reach the knockout stage of the prestigious event with a collective effort.

"I am very excited to play in the Thomas Cup, this is the first time I will be representing my country and I give my everything to help India win," Jayaram said.

"I will be playing the first singles. I have not seen the draw but I know if we can play collectively as a team, we can reach the knockout stage," said the Chennai-born shuttler, who reached the pre-quarterfinals in his maiden World Championship last year.

The world number 27 Indian said qualifying for the London Olympics is his priority this year and he is looking to break into the top 10 by year end.

"This is a very important year, it is the Olympics year and how much I say but I can`t get the Olympic qualification out of my head. I need to be consistent and improve my ranking," said Jayaram, who won his maiden international title in 2008 by clinching the Waikato tournament at Hamilton in New Zealand.

"I am aiming to be inside the top 10 as soon as possible, may be by the end of this year. I have to be the number one player for the country to qualify for the Olympics. The Indian Super Series will be the last tournament after which the world ranking will decided the qualification," he added.

However, the 24-year-old Indian said he needs to be more patient in the court.

"I need to be more patient. I have been very aggressive in the last couple of years, which is good but over aggressive approach can lose you matches. I am working with my coach Tom John. He has helped me a lot and brought a huge change in my game," he said.

"Last year I have beaten a lot of top ranked players but I have to be more consistent if I have to reach where I have set out to be, this are still early days and I have to work hard," Jayaram said.

The Indian Team will leave on Friday for Macau where defending champion China will also play in the qualifying Asia Zone and Jayaram feels it will make life difficult for other teams to reach the knockout stage.

"China is the strongest team and for them to play in the preliminaries means, naturally other teams will find it difficult. It would be tough but that is part and parcel of the game," he said.

Jayaram hogged the limelight at the World Championships in London last year when he stunned 2009 All England finalist Kenichi Tago in the opening round. He also reached the semifinals of Vietnam Open Grand Prix.

In the Japan Super Series, he stunned world number seven Tien Minh Nguyen, playing his first tournament after recovering from an abdomen muscle tear.

In 2010, Jayaram bagged the Smiling Fish international championship title in Thailand, besides wining the Czech Open International. He also won the silver medal at the Dutch Open Grand Prix Gold at Almere.


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