French Open: Satwik-Chirag Enter Final After Stunning Attacking Display Against World No.6 Pair
French Open 2019: Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty beat Japan's Yuta Watanabe-Horoyuki Endo 21-11, 25-23 to reach the men's doubles final.
File photo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (L) and Chirag Shetty. (Photo Credit: @SportsIndia3)
New Delhi: India's top men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty continued their upward trajectory as they made the final of the French Open 2019 with a straight games win over world No.6 Yuta Watanabe-Horoyuki Endo of Japan on Saturday.
Satwik-Chirag put up a brilliant display of attacking badminton as they outshone the Japanese pair 21-11, 25-23 in 50 minutes to make the final. This was their first win over Endo-Watanabe in their third attempt, never before had they even taken a game against the Japanese. It took Satwik-Chirag a fifth match point to take the match but when they did, their euphoria was visible, having made their second BWF World Tour final of the season.
This has been a progression for Satwik-Chirag in the French capital as the Indian pair had made the quarter-final in 2017, the semi-final last year and now the final.
Satwik and Chirag will be up against world No.1 pair of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo in the final.
Satwik and Chirag began the match brilliantly completely outplaying the Japanese pair, who were not allowed to settle into the match with the Indians assaulting them with their smashes.
Satwik and Chirag have shown massive improvement in their all-court play and bring a lot of variety in their shots instead of a one-dimensional attacking game they had before. That is exactly what has coincided with their rise.
With their steep smashes, excellent flat cross-court play and some staunch defence early on, the Indian pair took the first game 21-11 in just 15 minutes.
It was the second game that brought intense drama to the court, such that sent the Paris crowd into frenzy as they sang aloud towards the end, applauding the badminton incessantly.
Endo-Watanabe started the second game by taking the first three points, courtesy Satwik and Chirag both getting their strings broken on the first point followed by a couple of errors from Satwik.
The Japanese pair began to take a bit more initiative in the second game and Satwik's racquet leaked a few cheap errors as the Japanese took an 8-6 lead.
However, the Indian pair hit back with two straight points to level the proceedings. At 8-8, Satwik came up with two brilliant flick serves that yielded them important points after which Satwik-Chirag went into the break with an 11-8 lead.
With the Indian pair up 14-13, a brilliant rally ensued where Watanabe gave up at one point only for his partner to continue with the realisation that the rally was still on and his heart was rewarded when Satwik hit the net to yield the point.
Chirag's smash then went long as the Japanese pair led 15-14 but then Satwik's steep smash followed by a beautiful drop from Chirag made it 15-15.
The Indians remained on the up from there and brought up two match points at 20-18. The Japanese pair saved one after a 40-shot rally where Satwik hit the net after a barrage of shots from Chirag.
Endo then had a lucky net cord as the score went to deuce.
The Indian brought up their third match point when Watanabe hit the net trying to block a steep smash from Satwik. But it was saved once more by the Japanese pair in another thrilling rally.
Chirag played a half smash from the front court but Watanabe somehow got it back. Satwik was not quick enough to move up front and the Japanese pair had made it 21-21.
A fourth match point arrived for the Indian when Endo's block off a Chirag smash hit the net but the Japanese saved it once again when Satwik's return to Watanabe's flat stroke hit the net.
The Japanese brought up their first game point when Chirag's clear went long but the Indians made it 23-23 with Satwik getting a lucky net cord on service return.
By this time, the decibel level in the hall was at its peak and the Indian brought up their fifth match point with Satwik following up Chirag's half smash with a steep one at Watanabe.
Another long rally ensued where all the four players hurried all over the court before Satwik's brilliant cross court clear forced Watanabe to hit into the net and the Indians marched into the final.
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