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Thailand Open 2019: Rankireddy and Shetty reach their biggest career final

Shruti Sinha
ANALYST
News
03 Aug 2019, 23:28 IST

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (left) and Chirag Shetty
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (left) and Chirag Shetty

While the rest of the Indian contingent crashed out, the Indian men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty continued their stupendous play to reach the final at the Thailand Open in Bangkok on Saturday. There has never been any doubt about the young pair's immense talent, and they proved it once again when they staved off a fightback from Korea's Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Chol to knock out the 2014 world champions 22-20, 22-24, 21-9 in a 63-minute semi-final clash.

Only three ranking spots separated the two teams, but the 19th ranked Korean duo was at an advantage due to their sheer experience. World No. 16 Satwik and Chirag did not let it bother them even after squandering a pair of match points in the second game and made it to their first-ever final at Super 500 level or above.

The first game was neck-to-neck with not much to separate the two. Each of the teams kept giving their all in a highly-contested opener where youth trumped experience when the Indians managed to edge the Koreans to take the game narrowly.

It was expected of the Koreans to make a comeback, and they did. With an 18-12 lead in the second game, the match looked certain to head to the decider when drama ensued. With a fabulous combination of attack and their much-improved defense, the Indians were right back in the game and pocketed a couple of match points, at 21-20 and 22-21.

A little hesitation on their part cost them the game and a decider was set up which was totally dominated by the young brigade. The Indians, who had reached the semi-finals at the Indonesia Masters Super 500 event last year, will now take on the third seeds Li Jun Hui and Liu Yu Chen of China in the title showdown.

India had a poor campaign in singles with none managing to overcome the quarter-final hurdle. Sai Praneeth was the last Indian standing in singles following the exits of Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth, and he was expected to continue his good form having reached the semi-finals at the Japan Open last week.

However, the World No. 19 too failed to tackle the seventh seed Kanta Tsuneyama just a few days after beating him in Tokyo. India's title-winning hopes now all rest on the shoulders of Satwik and Chirag as they aim for the biggest achievement of their career.

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