Rankireddy-Shetty pair enters Thailand Open final

Bangkok, Aug 3:

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty on Saturday became the first Indian men’s doubles pair to enter the summit clash of a BWF Super 500 tournament with a three-game win in the Thailand Open semifinals, here.

The world number 16 Indian duo prevailed 22-20 22-24 21-9 against the 19th-ranked Korean team of Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol after battling hard for 63 minutes.

It is first final of the 2019 season for Rankireddy and Shetty, the men’s doubles silver medallist at 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The unseeded India combination will face third seeds Li Jun Hui and Liu Yu Chen of China in the summit clash on Sunday.

Rankireddy and Shetty were slow off the blocks as the Korean pair had the better share of exchanges in the first game to lead 3-0 and then 11-10 at the break.

But after the break, the Indians lifted their game and drew parity at 13 apiece before surging ahead 20-18. But Hyun and Cheol pocketed two consecutive points to draw level at 20-20.

The Indians kept their composure and earned two crucial points to take the first game.

It was the other way round in the second game as the Rankireddy and Shetty came out positive to take a 3-0 lead initially.

The Koreans, however, fought back with some smart play at the net and overhead smashes to lead 11-9 at the break, which they later extended to 19-12.

But the Indian looked in no mood to surrender as they clawed back to make it 20-all. The two pairs fought tooth and nail before the Koreans eventually pocketed the second game 24-22 to stretch the match into the decider.

In the final game, it was a cakewalk for the Indians as their Korean rivals failed to sustain the tempo.

Rankireddy and Shetty started aggressively in the decider and easily sealed the match.

Shetty attributed their success to a calm and composed approach.

“Well I feel that both of us became a lot more calmer and that was the major improvement,” he said after the win.

“We missed two match points in the second game. But we were able to win the decider quite comfortably because we were calm. We weren’t eager to score points. Whenever we had chances we went for them. We didn’t rush and that’s why we didn’t commit mistakes.

“The highlight of the match was obviously the last point as it was simply amazing to win a semifinal match against Hyun and Cheol as we have looked up to them in the past. So it was special,” Shetty added.

Rankireddy said they will try to make the country proud on Sunday.

“Well we are pretty happy with our performances. Playing with a calm and positive mindset is helping us a lot. We are confident of pulling off the match tomorrow,” he said.

“We won’t be doing anything different in the finals. We are very excited about our first finals tomorrow and will give our best and make India proud.” PTI