India Open | Chirag-Satwik duo provides warmth after Prannoy’s meltdown

One step away: Satwik and Chirag stormed into the final after a sterling display against Chia and Wooi Yik.

Braving severe cold conditions prevailing in the Capital, those who made it to the India Open badminton on Saturday night left the Jadhav Stadium after 11 p.m. following a heart-warming performance from the new poster-boys of Indian badminton — Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy.

The World No. 2 pair produced a fighting performance against fourth-seeded Malaysians Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik to whom it lost eight successive times before the next two. The 21-18, 21-14 victory made it a hat-trick of triumph. This will be a second final in eight days for the Indians after the summit clash of the Malaysia Open.

After H.S. Prannoy’s disappointing 21-15, 21-5 defeat to World No. 2 Shi Yuqi, Chirag-Satwik’s victory served as a soothing balm for the crowd. They bounced back from 10-13 in the second game to win the last six points, soon after a tap from Chirag struck Aaron Chia on the eye.

Earlier, Prannoy’s meltdown in the second game of the 42-minute contest cleared Shi Yuqi’s passage to the final against Hong Kong’s unseeded Lee Cheuk Yiu, the conqueror of second-seeded Japanese Kodai Naraoka.

H. S. Prannoy.

H. S. Prannoy.
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Shi Yuqi, a finalist of the Malaysia Open last Sunday, displayed a better range of strokes. His defence stood firm when it mattered as he looked to finish the point with smashes, drops and flicks.

The first game was fought on an even keel after Prannoy was first off the blocks. Some deft touches, placements and down-the-line forehand smashes helped Prannoy stay on the heels of the Chinese who led 11-10 at the mid-game interval.

On resumption, Prannoy kept pace till 14-14 before Shi Yuqi reeled off seven of the last eight points to close the game in 23 minutes.

The second game proved a no-contest. Shi Yuqi carried the momentum gained late in the opening game to break free from 6-3. He produced his range of shots, beat a tired Prannoy for pace and left the Indian exasperated.

The results (semifinals):

Men’s singles: 6-Shi Yuqi (Chn) bt 8-H.S. Prannoy 21-15, 21-5; Lee Cheuk Yiu (Hkg) bt 2-Kodai Naraoka (Jpn) 21-13, 15-21, 21-19.

Men’s doubles: 3-Kang Min Hyuk & Seo Seung Jae (Kor) bt 7-Takuro Hoki & Yugo Kobayashi (Jpn) 21-19, 21-14; 2-Chirag Shetty & Satwiksairaj Rankireddy bt 4-Aaron Chia & Soh Wooi Yik (Mal) 21-18, 21-14.

Women’s singles: 4-Tai Tzu Ying (Tpe) bt Yeo Jia Min (Sin) 21-13, 21-18; 2-Chen Yu Fie (Chn) bt Wang Zhi Yi (Chn) 21-13, 21-18.

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