Badminton: Satwik-Chirag enter men's doubles final of Malaysia Open

The world number 2 Indian pair, who won the Asian Games gold medal last year, beat their Korean opponents 21-18 and 22-20 in the semifinal match that lasted 47 minutes.
Indian men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty. (Photo | India_AllSports X)
Indian men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty. (Photo | India_AllSports X)

KUALA LUMPUR: Asian Games gold medallists Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty on Saturday beat world champions Korean pair of Seo Seung Jae and Kang Min Hyukdished in straight games to advance to the Malaysia Open Super 1000 men's doubles final in their first tournament of the season.

The Indian duo ranked second in the world, scripted a remarkable comeback after being down and out in the second game, saving six game points during an eight-point burst to waltz their way to a 21-18 and 22-20 win over their Korean opponents in a thrilling semifinal clash.

Satwik and Chirag thus stood just one step away from their second Super 1000 title, having won the first one at the Indonesian Open in June last year.

It was the same Korean pair that the Indians had defeated in the semifinals last June.

Overall, Satwik and Chirag now have a 3-1 head-to-head record against world no.3 Seo and Kang.

The match was marked by short and snappy rallies as Satwik and Chirag showed better anticipation and execution to lead 9-5 in the opening game.

However, a couple of long shots from the Indian pair and some clever stroke play helped the Koreans take four straight points.

Chirag then produced an exceptional return, leaving the Koreans wondering what hit them.

Another superb play at the net ensured the Indians a two-point cushion at the break.

The Koreans made it 12-13 after pouncing on a few weak returns from the Indians, who, however, pulled away again to 17-13 with a thunderous smash from Satwik and a flick serve from Chirag.

Seo went for a flick serve to set up a point but went wide twice next to hand four game points to the Indians, who wasted two of them before Seo sprayed one into the net.

In the second game, Seo and Kang were more alert with their defence and focused on placements and they found the gaps in more occasions.

They also dominated the flat exchanges to move to 9-4.

Some exciting fast-paced rallies ensued but the Korean pair managed to hold on to a 11-6 lead at the interval.

If Seo looked the better player in the opening game, Kang stepped up in the second and soon the Koreans were six points up at 17-11 in a jiffy as the Indians looked a tad subdued.

Chirag committed a few errors and soon, the Koreans grabbed six game points as a third game looked eminent but then there was a twist in the tale.

Down 14-20, Satwik and Chirag showed nerves of steel as the Koreans looked overcautious and sprayed into the net a number of times.

The Indians, on the other hand, rediscovered their touch just in time and they reeled off eight straight points to leave the Koreans stranded.

Satwik and Chirag were the most successful Indian players in the circuit last year, having won the Asian Games gold, titles in the Asian Championship, Indonesian Super 1000, Korea Super 500 and Swiss Open Super 300.

They also reached the finals of China Masters Super 750 in November last year.

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The New Indian Express