Satwik-Chirag reached the doubles final of Asian Badminton

Despite Indian shuttlers garnering many international laurels over the past decade, the Badminton Asia Championships haven’t really made the cut.

India’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, front, and Chirag Shetty, back, celebrate victory against Jiang Yu Ren and Qiang Tan of China in the men’s doubles final match of the Badminton Swiss Open, in St. Jakobshall, Switzerland, Sunday, March 26, 2023. Georgios Kefalas/Keystone Via AP)(AP)

The annual event is one of the toughest on the calendar as Asian shuttlers – who largely dominate the sport – vie to become the continent’s best. Indians have won several bronze medals – like PV Sindhu last year – but the final has usually been out of reach. An Indian entered the summit clash only in 1965 when Dinesh Khanna won the men’s singles crown in Lucknow in only the second edition of the tournament.

That endless wait came to an end in Dubai on Saturday evening when Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty stormed into the men’s doubles final after their rivals, Olympic champions Li Yang and Chinese Taipei’s Wang Chi-Lin, retired after a poor fall in the semi-finals. Later in Sheikh Rashid bin Hamdan Indoor Hall.

After a tightly contested first game where the Commonwealth Games champion India held their nerve in the closing stages of the first game to take the lead, Shetty faced a scare by asking for a medical time-out at the start of the second game . After injuring her ankle, Shetty continued with the injury and the second game also went to a close finish.

Satwik and Shetty were leading 21-18 and 13-14 on Court 1 when Wang collapsed and was not able to move his left leg. A medical time out was called and Wang was treated by tournament doctors. The Taiwanese player was in pain and decided to retire from the semi-finals. It was the Indian pair’s second final of the year.

With the result, Shetty and Rankireddy continued to release their list of ‘firsts’.

They became the first Indian men’s doubles pair to win gold at the Commonwealth Games. They are the only Indian men’s pair to claim a medal (bronze) at the 2022 World Championships. They are the only Indian pair to win a Super 500 or major event and also the first Indian men’s combination to reach the top-10 in the world rankings. It was also mainly because of these two that India achieved one of the greatest moments in the game by winning the Thomas Cup last year.

On Sunday, the world number six pair will have their second final of the year, having won the Swiss Open in Basel in March – the first title of the year for Indian shuttlers.

After taking on the reigning Olympic champions in their third encounter, Rankireddy and Shetty will take on Malaysian Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yee, ranked eighth in the world. The head-to-head record currently stands at 3-3, with the sixth seeded Indian pair winning their only encounter in the semi-finals of the Swiss Open this year.

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