Satwik-Chirag become champions in Badminton Asia Championship
Down 16-21, 7-13, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty were on the verge of losing comprehensively in the men’s doubles final at the Badminton Asia Championships in Dubai on Sunday. But the Indian pair came back in incredible fashion to push the title clash into a decider against Malaysian eighth seeds Ong Yew Sin and Teo Yee Yee.
India’s Commonwealth Games champions were trailing 11-15 in the third game but Shetty and Rankireddy did not give up. With Mathias Boe, his ever-reliable coach sitting at the front of the court, the sixth seed fought back to take the lead before converting his third match point. They are the first Indian pair to become champions of Asia in the tournament’s 61-year history.
By virtue of a 16–21, 21–17, 21–19 victory, Rankireddy and Shetty became only the second Indian winners in the prestigious tournament as only Dinesh Khanna – he had won the men’s singles title in Lucknow in 1965 – finished as champions. Had happened.
“I am over the moon. Satwik and I worked really hard for this medal and I am happy that we have finally won the title. I want to thank everyone for supporting me back home,” 25-year-old Shetty Said.
The world number six Indian, who won the India Open and the French Open on the BWF World Tour last year, has been in scintillating form since the Tokyo Olympics. They became the first Indian men’s doubles pair to win gold at the Commonwealth Games and bronze at the World Championships. He was also instrumental in India’s gold medal-winning Thomas Cup campaign last year.
This is her second title in 2023, having also won the Swiss Open title in Basel in March, the first of the year for Indian shuttlers.
“I am grateful for all the support I have received during this championship. It is a great feeling to win this tournament for the first time; I am sure we will win more such titles in the future. We will continue to work hard to bring laurels to the country, 22-year-old Rankireddy said.
In a game of contrasting styles – Indian attack versus Malaysian defense – Shetty and Rankireddy started with some ferocious shots to get into the rhythm and the match was tied at 13-all. But the Indian pair lost momentum and world number eight Ong and Teo capitalized on their mistakes to take the first game.
The Malaysian team maintained their momentum in the second game to take a 13-7 lead and it was all over for Shetty and Rankireddy. But the Indian pair did not lose hope and made a strong comeback before winning the game to level the contest. “After 13-7 we tried to play a little smarter. Service was something that worked really well for us; This surprised him. We were very calm defending as well,” said Shetty.
The third game was again a whirlwind affair and it looked like it was going in favor of the Malaysian team, who won the bronze medal at the 2021 World Championships, as they raced to a 15-11 lead. But the never-say-die attitude of the Indians helped them stage a comeback before reaching 20-17 and converting their third championship point after an epic battle that lasted an hour and seven minutes.
“Today we didn’t play, the crowd played with us. We had a bad start in the first and half of the second game, but we didn’t give up. We held our nerves; We know how to play in these conditions. So, we were waiting for a good rhythm and then took our chances. We were calm in the second and third games.
“Personally, it will take a long time to believe that we are the Asian champions. I still can’t believe we are Thomas Cup champions. It is our dream to win and hoist the tricolor for India. Good boost for us as we go into the Olympic qualification period.
The Badminton Association of India (BAI) has announced a reward of Rs one lakh to the players. 2 million.