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Malaysia Open: Heartbreak for Satwik-Chirag as they go down in final

January 14, 2024 17:14 IST

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty celebrate on the podium after their loss to World No 1 Chinese duo Liang Wei Keng and Wang Chang at the Malysia Open on Sunday

IMAGE: Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty celebrate on the podium after their loss to World No 1 Chinese duo Liang Wei Keng and Wang Chang at the Malysia Open on Sunday. Photograph: Screengrab

India's Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty faltered at the finishing line to end their dream run at the Malaysia Open Super 1000 with a narrow loss in the men's doubles final against world No. 1 Chinese Liang Wei Keng and Wang Chang in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.


Satwik and Chirag, the Asian Games gold medallists, squandered an opening game advantage and an 11-7 lead in the decider to go down 21-9, 18-21, 17-21 to Liang and Wang in the summit clash which saw both the pairs displaying some exquisite strokeplay.

It was a fourth defeat for the Indian pair against Liang and Wang, having lost three of their last four meetings -- all in 2023. The only time Satwik and Chirag had emerged victories was during their title-winning run at Korea Open Super 500 last year.

In fast playing conditions, the Indians dominated the proceedings early on, cruising to a 5-1 lead with the help of some angled returns and accurate placements.

Satwik and Chirag looked in complete control while their opponents were a bit nervy as they played short and pacy rallies comprising just 5-8 flat and fast shots.

The Indians had a seven-point advantage at the break when the Chinese went to the net.

The targeted returns of the Indians often left the Chinese cramped as they patrolled the front court. Soon the Indians were 18-9 up and grabbed the opening game after Liang went wide and long.

It was time for the Chinese pair to run up a 8-2 lead after the change of ends as the Indians repeatedly missed their mark. Satwik also committed a service error as the Chinese duo was 9-5 up and when Chirag mistimed a return-to-serve, it was a 11-6 advantage for Liang and Wang.

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty 

The match didn't see too many smashes as none of the pairs tried to lift and kept the shuttle flat during the rallies. The focus was to find gaps and angles without compromising on the pace.

After resumption, the Indians started to draw out errors from their opponents to make it 15-17. A short serve from Satwik gave two game points to the Chinese, and Liang sealed it with a lethal return to roar back into the contest.

The decider started with the same breath-taking speed with the Indians up 4-2 after Liang was called for a service fault for height.

Back to the winning side, the Indians once again looked ominous, waltzing away with quick points to move to 10-3 before taking a four-point cushion at the final break.

Chirag was brilliant near the net, pouncing on anything marginally weak but things started changing after resumption as Wang came to the fore, dominating the front court and soon brought things at level at 12-12 with a flick serve.

Satwik seemed to falter a bit in the end as he conceded a few points on the flat pushes. On one such occasion, when Satwik went wide during a flat exchange, the Chinese moved into a 14-13 lead for the first time.

Liang, who had looked a bit subdued till now, also found his groove just in time as the Chinese moved to 19-16.

A disguised cross court drop shot gave four championship points to the Chinese. The Indians saved one before the Chinese shut the doors on their hopes.

It was yet another creditable performance from the Indian pair, which had claimed its maiden Super 1000 crown at the Indonesia Open last June.

Satwik and Chirag will next compete at the India Open Super 750 tournament starting in New Delhi on Tuesday.

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