Satwik-Chirag reach doubles final at Asian badminton - Hindustan Times
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Satwik-Chirag reach doubles final at Asian badminton

By, New Delhi
Apr 29, 2023 10:14 PM IST

They became only 2nd Indian finalists in the continental event being played in Dubai after injury while trailing forced their opponents to retire in the semis

Despite Indian shuttlers achieving many international laurels in the past decade or so, they haven’t really made the cut when it comes to the Badminton Asia Championships.

India's Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, front, and Chirag Shetty, back, celebrate winning against China's Xiang Yu Ren and Qiang Tan in the men's doubles final match of the Badminton Swiss Open at the St. Jakobshalle, in Basel, Switzerland, Sunday, March 26, 2023. (Georgios Kefalas/Keystone via AP)(AP)
India's Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, front, and Chirag Shetty, back, celebrate winning against China's Xiang Yu Ren and Qiang Tan in the men's doubles final match of the Badminton Swiss Open at the St. Jakobshalle, in Basel, Switzerland, Sunday, March 26, 2023. (Georgios Kefalas/Keystone via AP)(AP)

The annual event is one of the toughest on the calendar with the best of Asian shuttlers – who largely dominate the game – vying to be the continent’s best. Indians have claimed multiple bronze medals – like PV Sindhu last year – but the final has usually been out of reach. The only time an Indian entered the summit clash was in 1965 when Dinesh Khanna won the men’s singles crown in Lucknow in only the second edition of the tournament.

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That interminable wait ended on Saturday evening in Dubai when Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty entered the men’s doubles final after their opponents, Olympic champions Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin of Chinese Taipei, retired in the semi-finals following a bad fall suffered by the latter in the Sheikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Indoor Hall.

Following an extremely tight first game where India’s Commonwealth Games champions edged ahead by holding their nerve in the closing moments of the first game, Shetty suffered a scare when he called for a medical time out at the start of the second. After he got his ankle sprayed, Shetty continued with the niggle and the second game also headed for a close finish.

Satwik and Shetty were leading 21-18 and 13-14 on Court 1 when Wang fell and wasn’t able to move his left leg. A medical time out was called and the tournament doctors attended to Wang. The Taiwanese was in pain and decided to retire from the semi-final. It was the second final of the year for the Indian pair.

With the result, Shetty and Rankireddy continued to roll out their list of ‘firsts’.

They became the first Indian men’s doubles pair to win gold at the Commonwealth Games. They are the only Indian men’s pair to claim a medal (bronze) at the 2022 World Championships. They are the only Indian pair to win Super 500 or bigger events and are also the first Indian men’s combine to reach the top-10 in world rankings. It was also primarily because of the duo that India achieved one of the greatest moments in the sport when they won the Thomas Cup last year.

Sunday will be the world No 6 pair’s second final of the year, having won the Swiss Open in Basel in March – the first title of the year for Indian shuttlers.

After moving past the Olympic champions in their third meeting, Rankireddy and Shetty will take on Malaysian eighth seeds Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi, who are also ranked eighth in the world. The head-to-head record is currently 3-3 with the Indian sixth seeds winning the only contest played between them this year at the Swiss Open semi-finals.

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