Satwik-Chirag battle into Swiss Open doubles final
The Indian pair quelled a fightback from their Malaysian rivals before winning in three games
There’s something in the Basel air that brings the best out of Indian shuttlers. Barring one edition, Indians have reached the final at the Swiss Open in at least one category since 2014. It was also at the same arena – St Jakobshalle – that Indian badminton reached its zenith when PV Sindhu became the first Indian to be crowned world champion, in 2019.
Looks like the Swiss air continues to stoke the competitive fire in Indian players. On Saturday, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty entered the men’s doubles final at the $210,000 tournament with a splendid victory over Malaysian third seeds Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi. It wasn’t easy for the second seeds, who fought hard to win 21-19, 17-21, 21-17 against the world No 8 pair in a contest that lasted one hour and nine minutes.
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The first game was tightly fought before the booming smashes from Rankireddy’s racquet started getting buried in the opposite end of the court, giving the Indian pair a 16-11 lead. The Malaysians fought back to win six points on the trot to go up 17-16 and then 19-17. Shetty and Rankireddy though dug deep to retrieve multiple Malaysian smashes to go ahead in the match on their first game point.
The Malaysian third seeds turned the tables on Shetty and Rankireddy in the second game. They took an early lead and maintained it throughout the game. The Indians tried their best to finish the contest in straight games, but Ong and Teo never lost the lead, pushing the contest into the decider.
With barely anything to choose between the two pairs in the final game, the Malaysians were regularly able to return smashes till 7-all before Shetty and Rankireddy managed to pull away to 11-7 at the mid-game break.
India doubles coach Mathias Boe’s instructions kept getting louder as he regularly counselled his wards on the tactics, telling them to maintain discipline against the Malaysian pair that won bronze at the 2021 World Championships.
Though the Malaysians fought back like in the first game, the Indian pairing had built a big cushion and clung on to it to reach match point and converting it at the first time for a third victory against the Malaysians in six meetings. The world No 6 pair faces China’s Ren Xiang Yu and Tan Qiang, the world No 21, for the Super 300 title.
The Commonwealth Games champions are seeking their first title since winning the 2022 French Open last October. If they win their seventh final on the BWF World Tour, it will be the first title for Indian shuttlers this year.
India have been drawn in a tricky Group C with Malaysia, Chinese Taipei and Australia for the Sudirman Cup that will be held in Suzhou, China from May 14 to 21. Two teams from each of the four groups will qualify for the quarter-finals. While India have a poor record in the prestigious mixed team championship, the Thomas Cup victory last year followed by the bronze at the Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships in February have raised Indian hopes.