Yeosu (Korea): Star Indian pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty entered the final of Korea Open super 500 badminton tournament with a thrilling straight-game win over world number two Chinese pair of Liang Wei Keng and Wang Chang on Saturday. The world number three Indian pair notched up a 21-15, 24-22 win over the second seeded Chinese in a 40-minute duel at the Jinnam stadium. It was Satwik and Chirag’s first win over the Chinese pair following two earlier defeats.
Satwik and Chirag, who has won the Indonesia Super 1000 and Swiss Open Super 500 titles this year, will be up against either top seeds Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto of Indonesia or Korea’s Kang Min Hyuk and Seo Seung Jae in the summit clash.
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Satwik and Chirag book their first-ever #KoreaOpen final berth after taking down 2nd-seeded Liang/Wang in straight games, 21-15, 24-22 _#KoreaOpen2023 #BWFWorldTour #BWFonJioCinema #BWFonSports18 | @satwiksairaj @Shettychirag04 pic.twitter.com/oTOoixs8hZ
— JioCinema (@JioCinema) July 22, 2023
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The Chinese, who have won the Thailand and India Open this year, came into the match with a 2-0 head-to-head record but it was a different day as the Indians produced a fine show to reach their second successive final, having won the Indonesia Open in their last tournament in June. Both pairs engaged in short rallies and pounced on anything weak. The result was the pairs moved neck-and-neck from 3-3 to 5-5.
India had a slender 7-5 lead but Liang unleashed a precise smash between the two. The Indians, however, managed to hold on to a three-point cushion at the interval once Liang found the net.
The lead swelled to 14-8 with the Chinese finding the net and going long. Satwik then dished out his trademark smash but the Chinese duo got a couple of points, mainly due to Chirag’s judgement error on the backline.
Another smash going to net from Liang and it was 17-11 up for Indians, who soon made it 19-12 with Satwik producing an accurate cross court return. Satwik and Chirag had six game points after Wang sent one to the net. The Indians squandered one before sealing the net when Liang failed to negotiate a serve.
The second game was no different with both the pairs alternatively taking points, moving from 2-2 to 8-8. Soon the Indians grabbed two quick points with Chirag leading the charge. The Chinese then hit wide to give an 11-8 advantage to the Indians at the break.
After resumption, Wang’s backhand went to net as the Indians soon jumped to 14-9. A cross court return by Wang and Liang’s brilliance in the front court kept the Chinese in the hunt as it was 12-14.
The Chinese kept breathing down their neck till 17-15 before Liang unleashed a smash as the match headed to a tight finish. The Indians regained the two-point lead after the Chinese went wide but Liang once again pounced on a weak return at the net and then sent down another jump smash to claw back at 18-18.
While Liang sent one long, Chirag served short as it was 19-19. Chirag then sent a smash to grab a match-point. But Satwik was short in his serve this time as it was 20-20.
India earned a second match point with Satwik sending down a stiff return. But squandered it with Wang put one away. Wang, however, sprayed the next one at the net but Liang saved the day with a smash as it was 22-22.
India grabbed their fourth match point and converted this time with Satwik sending one across, albeit after kissing the net. He soon broke into his trademark dance.
The BWF World Tour is divided into six levels, namely World Tour Finals, four Super 1000, six Super 750, seven Super 500, and 11 Super 300. One other category of the tournament, the BWF Tour Super 100 level, also offers ranking points.