Satwik-Chirag win Thailand Open title

Star Indian pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty received a major boost ahead of the Paris Olympics as they secured the men's doubles title at the Thailand Open Super 500 badminton tournament with a straight-game win over Chen Bo Yang and Liu Yi of China here on Sunday.
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shett after winning men's doubles title at the Thailand Open Super 500 badminton tournament
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shett after winning men's doubles title at the Thailand Open Super 500 badminton tournament

Bangkok | Star Indian pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty received a major boost ahead of the Paris Olympics as they secured the men's doubles title at the Thailand Open Super 500 badminton tournament with a straight-game win over Chen Bo Yang and Liu Yi of China here on Sunday.

In the form of their lives, Satwik and Chirag, the world number three pair prevailed 21-15 21-15 over Liu and Chen, ranked 29th, for their ninth BWF world tour title.

It was also the second title of the season for the Asian Games champions following their triumph at the French Open Super 750 in March. They had also finished runners-up at Malaysia Super 1000 and India Super 750.

"Bangkok has always been special for us, we won our first Super Series title back in 2019 here and also the Thomas cup, so it has been a special place and so happy to be here," Chirag said after the win.

For Satwik and Chirag, the title comes at a major juncture of their career as they had some low returns in the last couple of tournaments.

The Indian pair lost in the second round at All England Championships and then missed the Asia Championships due to an injury to Satwik.

The Thomas Cup campaign was also not too fruitful as they lost a couple of narrow matches to top pairs.

Satwik and Chirag had come into the Thailand Open final without dropping a game and were favourites to claim the title, while Liu and Chen also produced some stunning wins in the run-up to the summit clash and had the reputation of never losing a final.

However, it was always going to be a tough task to tame the top-seeded Indians, who didn't allow the Chinese to get into long rallies or sustain any pressure.

Satwik and Chirag made a superb start by quickly opening up a 5-1 lead. Chen and Liu clawed back with a four-point burst.

At 7-7, the Chinese pair won a 39-shot rally and surged ahead to 10-7 before spraying one long. Liu and Chen played a few intense rallies but Chirag unleashed a bullet return to draw level at 10-10 but Liu ensured they had a slender edge at the break.

Satwik and Chirag moved to 14-11 after resumption before Satwik sliced one to net. The Indians extended the lead to 16-12. Liu sent a lob over Satwik's head to set up a point, while Chirag sprayed into net as the Chinese kept snapping at their heels.

However, the Indians soon grabbed five game points with Satwik sending one to the corner and then dishing out another superb service which the Chinese could only bury into the net.

The Indians made a solid 8-3 start after the change of sides and maintained the five-point cushion at the interval when the Chinese dumped one into the net.

Chen and Liu registered three straight points but Satwik broke the run of play with an aggressive return. At 15-11, Satwik received warning for delaying the game and with Chirag overhitting twice, Chen and Liu moved to 14-15.

But the Indians dashed any hopes of a mutiny with Chirag setting up a point with a fine placement and Satwik providing the finishing touch as they moved to 17-15. Liu then sprayed into net as the Indians again eked out a three-point gap.

Satwik then unleashed a barrage of smashes to grab five match points. The Chinese then sent Chirag's smash into the net. As part of celebrations, Satwik broke into a dance with his racquet, while Chirag threw his shirt into the crowd.

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