Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Satwik-Chirag win Swiss Open title

India’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, front, and Chirag Shetty, return a shuttlecock to China’s Xiang Yu Ren and Qiang Tan during their men’s doubles final match of the Badminton Swiss Open at the St. Jakobshalle, in Basel, Switzerland, Sunday, March 26, 2023.

India’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, front, and Chirag Shetty, return a shuttlecock to China’s Xiang Yu Ren and Qiang Tan during their men’s doubles final match of the Badminton Swiss Open at the St. Jakobshalle, in Basel, Switzerland, Sunday, March 26, 2023.
| Photo Credit: AP

Indian men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty capped off their impressive campaign with a title win, beating China’s Ren Xiang Yu and Tan Qiang in the final of the Swiss Open Super 300 badminton tournament here on Sunday.

The second-seeded Indian pair, the 2022 World Championships bronze medallist, was solid in defence and dished out an attacking game to outwit the world No. 21 pair 21-19, 24-22 in 54 minutes.

It was the first title of the season for India with Satwik and Chirag putting to rest the disappointment of last week’s All England Championships where they had exited in the second round.

Overall, it was the fifth career world tour title for the Indian pair, who had claimed the India Open and French Open last year, besides securing the Thailand Open in 2019 and Hyerabad Open in 2018.

Satwik and Chirag had also won the Commonwealth Games gold in 2022.

The title run also meant India continued its love affair with the Swiss Open, with PV Sindhu (2022), Saina Nehwal (2011, 2012), Kidambi Srikanth (2015) and HS Prannoy (2016) claiming the crown in the past.

The two pairs had contracting march to the final with Satwik and Chirag playing three three-game matches on their way to the summit clash, while Tan and Ren didn’t drop a game.

Tan had forged a world No. 10 pairing with He Jiting in 2019, winning the 2021 World Championships silver medal, while Ren had been ranked as high as 16 with his former partner Ou Xuanyi.

Playing the Chinese pair for the first time, Satwik and Chirag turned up the heat at the right moments, displayed their attacking prowess and steely nerves to come out victories.

A service error from Chirag was a dampener but India managed to lead 3-1 early on before the Chinese drew parity at 6-6. There was another service error for height from Satwik before the Indians entered the break with a three-point cushion.

The Indians tried to keep the rallies flat and short and it worked, as they led 15-10 and then 18-13.

However, Tan and Ren soon narrowed down the gap to 17-18.

But, a precise smash from Chirag, which bisected the court, gave Idia two game points. Satwik sailed one long before sealing the game with a winner to take the first advantage.

The second game was an extremely close affair as the rivals fought tooth and nail.

After trailing 2-4 early, Chirag went on the attack from the front court to draw level.

The Chinese pair kept fighting and clawed back at 8-8 with Tan finding a winner at the forecourt with a drop.

Satwik smashed one into the net before the Chinese made a service error to hand a two-point advantage to the Indians at the mid-game interval.

The Indian duo quickly extended the lead to 14-11 with Satwik producing a powerful smash. Tan and Chirag then engaged in a terrific rally but the latter went long as the Chinese kept breathing down the neck of the Indian pair.

With Satwik erring twice, China was back on level par at 16-16. In the end, a straight smash from Chirag earned India two championship points. After another exciting rally, Chirag went long to squander one opportunity.

A lucky net chord helped China draw parity at 20-20 before Tan sent one into the net to gift another match point to the Indians.

However, once again, a return bounced from the net as China saved another championship point.

Tan and Ren then grabbed a game point of their own with Chirag erring, but China lost it with a shot going into net.

India soon grabbed their fourth championship point and converted it this time. It was time for Chirag and Satwik to celebrate.

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