Satwik-Chirag Duo In Finals Of French Open Super 750 Event

Paris: The Indian men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty continued their dream run, sailing into the finals of the French Open Super 750 with a straight game win over Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo and Yuta Watanabe here.

Satwik and Chirag, who had won their maiden Super 500 title at the Thailand Open in August, notched up a 21-11 25-23 win over the fifth seeded Japanese combination in a 56-minute semifinal on Saturday.

The duo’s effort is commendable as this is the first time an Indian men’s doubles pair has reached a World Tour 750 final.

They will now look to become the first Indian pair to win a Super 750 title on the BWF circuit when they take on top seeds Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo in the final on Sunday night.

If they win, they will become the first all-Indian pair to win the French Open since Partho Ganguli and Vikram Singh did it in 1983.

Currently perched at a career-high World No. 11 ranking, their series of top-10 wins this week will help them inch closer to the highly-coveted top-10 spot and a berth at the Tokyo Olympics next year.

It’s their composure under pressure that has been the very reason for their continued success and rapid improvement, something Chirag Shetty himself pointed out.

“It really feels good to be playing in the French Open final today and hopefully if we are able to keep the calm and patience that we have shown for the past one week, then I think we definitely stand a chance to win,” he said.

Satwik and Chirag had come into the match with a 0-2 head-to-head record against the Japanese combination, having lost to them at the 2018 Indonesia Open and 2017 World Championship.

The Indian pair took the first game easily in just 15 minutes, using the smash to good effect, but Satwik and Chirag were under a bit of pressure early in the second game.

However, they came back strongly to lead 11-8 at the mid-break. This was after the Japanese had taken a 8-6 lead owing to a few errors from the racquet of Satwik.

The Japanese pair fought hard in a dramatic second game and saved multiple match points, but the determined Indian duo eventually emerged victorious with their brilliant play that was a mix of attack and defence, a far cry from the one-dimensional approach that punctuated their game in the past.

They are the only remaining Indian challenge at the USD 7,00,000 event following the defeat of reigning world champion and Olympic silver medallist P V Sindhu and Olympic bronze winner Saina Nehwal at the quarterfinals stage.

They had become the first Indian team to triumph at the Super 500 when they triumphed at the Thailand Open in August.

At the French capital this week, they have taken it up a level further with their confident strokeplay against some of the best teams in the world.

Reigning world champions Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan, one of the most experienced pairs to play the sport, fell to the Indians’ variety and superb teamwork.

After securing their biggest career win against the World No. 2 duo, they kept that impressive run going against World No. 8 Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen and World No. 6 Hiroyuki Endo and Yuta Watanabe to set up a summit showdown with the World No. 1 pair.

The winning mentality and never-say-die attitude have set them on the path to glory. At the French Open, only Kidambi Srikanth has so far tasted success from among the Indians ever since the tournament was upgraded to a Superseries level in 2007.

Saina Nehwal was the only other Indian to make it to the final in 2012.