Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Country ‘s top men’s doubles pair, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty held their nerves to defeat
South Korean pair of Choi Solgyu and Seo Sueng Jae 21-17, 17-21, 21-19 to storm into the semi-finals of Thailand Open, making it the appearance of a first-ever double by any Indian shuttler in 3 BWF World Tour 500 and above Events on Friday.
Satwik and Chirag will now take on another South Korean pair – Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol as the singles challenge ended with Sai Praneeth loosing to seventh seed Kanta Tsuneyama 18-21, 12-21 and mixed doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Satwikranki Reddy lost to yet another Japanese pair and third seed Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino 13-21; 15-21. Satwik and Ashwini had created an upset on Wednesday when they defeated reigning Olympic Silver medallist in Thailand.
The World No 16 doubles pair took little over an hour to complete the match and reach the first semi-final of 2019 on the BWF World Tour circuit. They have won Brazil International Challenge earlier and reached the semis at Denmark Challenge.
On Friday, Satwik-Chirag kept a steady lead against their South Korean opponents to take the first game with ease. The second game, however, saw the South Koreans change their strategy. Choi-Seo started playing lot straighter and flatter and that ensured a strong come back to take the second game 21-17. The Indians made a strong comeback in the third game. With sharp anticipation skills at the net and brilliant steep smashes from the Indian pair ensured a 21-19 win, after being levelled 19-19 in the last game.
Talking after the match Satwik said; “With every tournament we can see our game improving. In today’s match, we knew if we stay positive and confident till the end; we can win and we really played well in the last two points in the end.”
The Commonwealth Silver medalist further added; “both of us are making strategies for every point on court and this has helped us to win crucial points which otherwise we have been losing also staying calm and positive at the end has really worked in our favour.”
After upsetting the world No.7 pair of Indonesia’s Fajar Alfian-Muhammad Rian Ardianto in the Round of 16 on Thursday, Satwik-Chirag were the favourites in the quarter-finals, as they were up against the pair ranked 27 in the world.