Satwiksairaj, Chirag claim Swiss Open doubles title - Hindustan Times

Satwiksairaj, Chirag claim Swiss Open doubles title

By, New Delhi
Mar 26, 2023 07:21 PM IST

The straight games victory by India’s world No 6 pair over their unseeded Chinese rivals in the final sealed their fifth BWF World Tour title

Mathias Boe is usually very calm and is often seen instructing animated wards Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty to keep their cool and maintain ‘discipline’ in the heat of the battle on the badminton court.

India's Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy in action (Action Images via Reuters)
India's Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy in action (Action Images via Reuters)

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But when Tan Qiang’s return went into the net, the India doubles coach could not contain his delight. He jumped out of his seat courtside, like how the former Danish world No 1 would celebrate on the court with partner Carsten Mogensen during their playing days.

On Sunday, the leap of joy was for his wards Shetty and Rankireddy, who claimed the Swiss Open doubles crown in Basel, becoming the first Indian pair to do so. The second seeds defeated the unseeded Chinese pair Ren Xiang Yu and Tan Qiang 21-19, 24-22 in 54 minutes to claim their first title since winning the French Open in Paris last October. This is also the first international title of the year by Indian shuttlers.

Other Indians to win the $210,000 Super 300 tournament are Kidambi Srikanth (2015), HS Prannoy (2018) and Sameer Verma (2018) in men’s singles and Saina Nehwal (2011, 2012) and PV Sindhu (2022) in women’s singles.

The title marks an incredible turnaround after the world No 6 pair were almost ousted in the second round when they were down four match points against Chinese Taipei’s Lee Fang-Chih and Lee Fang-Jen. Rankireddy and Shetty saved all four to fight back and win the marathon contest that lasted an hour and 21 minutes.

On Sunday, in the first meeting between the pairs, the Indians held the edge from the start at St Jakobshalle in Basel. The Chinese may be ranked lower at world No 21 but are an experienced pair – Qiang reached the final of the 2021 World Championships – having got together not long ago.

The contest was a clash of playing styles. The Chinese were regularly trying to use their power with backhand cross court drives – a wonderful technique which helped them beat other top pairs earlier in the week. Rankireddy and Shetty, on the other hand, were using their typical style of big attacks and then quick finish at the net thanks to Shetty’s reflexes. It helped them take a 11-8 lead at the mid-game interval.

The Indians looked in the zone, dominating the longer rallies. They were heading towards winning the first game after going up 18-13. The Chinese tried clawing back by winning four straight points, producing some scintillating badminton, but the Indians made sure they never lost the lead and closed out the first game in 22 minutes.

The second game was very fast paced, keeping the contest as tight as possible. Shetty kept intercepting the bird midcourt several times with superb anticipation, which helped them win points by catching the Chinese off guard. It helped them lead 11-9 again at the midgame break. The Chinese pair always stayed on the heels of their much higher ranked opponents but some brilliant defensive work by Rankireddy helped earn match points. Ren and Tan saved three match points – with the net involved in two of them – before the Indian pair won the game of fine margins.

As the shuttle hit the net for the winning point, Boe leapt out of his seat, Shetty took off his shirt in celebration while Rankireddy broke into what has now become a traditional victory dance on the court for the fifth BWF World Tour title – the first of the year – in seven finals.

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    From badminton to cricket, Sandip Sikdar writes on many sporting disciplines. He has the experience of working in digital, news agency as well as print organisations. Motorsport remains his first love.

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