Rajiv Ouseph gave English badminton a huge boost by lifting the men’s singles title at the Yonex US Open in Orange County, Los Angeles, in what he calls “the biggest win of my career.”

The 23-year-old third seed from Hounslow in West London defeated France’s ninth seed Brice Leverdez 21-17 21-9 in 30 minutes for the biggest win of his career.

He dropped just two games in the whole tournament – in his opening win and in the semi-finals – and the victory made up for his disappointing early exit at the Canadian Open just over a week ago, as well as avenging team-mate Carl Baxter’s defeat by Leverdez in the third round in Los Angeles.

Ouseph must now wait until Thursday to see if the ranking points he collects for his US triumph will be enough to lift Great Britain’s highest-ranked singles player the two places he needs to take him into the world’s top 20 for the first time. His previous highest ranking is word No. 21.

The US Open title comes just two weeks after Denmark’s Kenneth Jonassen arrival at BADMINTON England as new men’s singles coach.

But Jonassen said: “I am not really concerned about ranking points. Only the win is important to me as a coach. I am mostly concerned with how Raj handled the pressure and the level of his game.”

Jonassen, who was part of the England coaching team at the US Open along with Pete Jeffrey and Graham Hurrell, added: “It was a good win for Raj. Both players were tense at the start but Raj was able to pick up his level compared to his earlier games and was in control of the match.

“He played a good mix of skill and physical play and made Brice look for winners. That produced easy mistakes as a result of the pressure Raj put him under.

“Raj did even better in the second game, with more variation, dedication and total tactical dominance. Raj was the stronger player on court today.”

Ouseph, the former European junior champion who was European bronze medallist in Manchester in April to add to his third successive English National title in February, said: “This was an important win for me, especially after the poor display in Canada last week when I lost in the second round.

“I was feeling some pressure during this tournament but, after the first difficult round (he won 21-19 in the third game against Lee Hock Lai of Malaysia) I felt more relaxed and confident.

“I am happy to have won a lot of hard matches against tough players this week. It’s definitely the biggest win of my career and now I am ready to take on new challenges.

“I am looking forward to the World Championships in Paris in three weeks.”

Further down the line he also has next year’s World Championships and the Olympic Games – both in his native London – to look forward to.

BADMINTON England Chief Executive Adrian Christy said: “This is a brilliant win for Raj. It’s such an important achievement for so many reasons and couldn’t have come at a better time.

“It will give all our senior players a lift in the countdown to both the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games.”
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