Thailand Open: Rankireddy and Shetty create history

Memorable win
Chirag Shetty, left, and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy pose with their medals and trophy. AFP

Bangkok: Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty on Sunday became the first Indian pair to win a BWF Super 500 badminton tournament with a hard-fought victory over Li Jun Hui and Liu Yu Chen of China in the summit clash of Thailand Open here.

The unseeded Indian duo prevailed 21-19, 18-21, 21-18 over the third-seeded Chinese pair after battling hard for an hour and two minutes. 

It was the first final of the 2019 season for Rankireddy and Shetty, the men's doubles silver medallists at 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Rankireddy and Shetty got off to a good start as they broke away from 3-3 early on and moved ahead to open up a 10-6 lead, but their Chinese opponents kept breathing down their neck and made it 14-14. 

On song
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, right, comes up with a smash in the final. AFP

It was a closely fought affair after that and the world No. 16 Indian pair could take an edge only at 20-18. 

Although the Chinese duo narrowed down the gap further to 19-20, the Indians managed to win the crucial point to wrap up the first game.

In the second game, the Indians managed to take an upper hand as they moved to a 6-2 lead but the Chinese soon bridged the gap to 5-6 before catching up with them at 11-11. 

Staying focussed
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, left, and Chirag Shetty in action in the summit clash. AFP

After the interval, the Chinese duo surged ahead to 13-11, but the Indians lifted their game and drew parity at 13 apiece.

The Indians then overtook their opponents to 16-14 and then climbed up to 18-16 before the Chinese pair won five consecutive points to stun the Indians and take the match to the decider.

Letting it go
Chirag Shetty, left, makes a smash in the title clash. AFP

Rankireddy and Shetty were slow off the blocks in the third game, but managed to make it 6-6. From there on, the Indians never looked back and kept their composure to maintain the edge over their rivals till the end.

Even though the Chinese pair fought back and at one stage reduced the gap to 18-19, the Indians looked in no mood to climb down and went on to pocket two consecutive points to seal the match.

On cloud nine
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, left, and Chirag Shetty celebrate their triumph. AFP