India’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty continued their sizzling form with a fine 21-19, 21-15 win over former world champions Li Jun Hui and Liu Yu Chen of China to move into the semifinals of the 2019 Fuzhou China Open on Friday.
Having beaten the Chinese duo to clinch their maiden BWF Super Series title at the Thailand Open earlier this year, the Indians came into the match high on confidence. And it was visible in the way they approached the tie, as they barely let the third-seeded Chinese have a strong hold of the match and wrapped up the proceedings in just over 40 minutes at the Haixia Olympic Sports Center in Fuzhou.
Up against a Chinese pair in their own backyard, the Indian duo were a little cautious in the beginning, letting Li and Liu stay in the tie during the initial exchanges. With the pairs exchanging points frequently, something special was needed from either side to assert their supremacy.
While the Indians did their bit to test the Chinese by mixing their shots well and keeping their opponents guessing on returns, the home team attacked the Indians’ body to put them in a spot of bother.
But things soon started to take a positive turn for the Indians post the mid-game interval, as Shetty took the initiative and bossed the net area to keep the pressure firmly on the Chinese.
With the shuttle moving slower than usual and playing with the drift, the Indian duo ensured that they used the conditions to great effect and caught the Chinese off-guard time and again to eventually take the opening game 21-19.
With a foot already in Saturday’s semis, the Indians ensured that they didn’t lose their focus, pushing the Chinese duo to their limits in search of some valuable points.
While Liu found it difficult to keep up with the pace of the rally time and again, forcing him to commit errors, Li had a day to forget on the court as Shetty barely let him settle into a rhythm with his quick and unexpected interceptions.
Having adopted a flat game to negate the advantage the Chinese pair could garner because of their height, the Indians ensured that their opponents were in all sorts of trouble as the match progressed.
The Indians will now take on the top-ranked pair of Marcus Gideon and Kevin Sukamuljo of Indonesia in their last-four encounter on Saturday.