India’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty’s quest for a maiden victory over top-ranked Marcus Gideon and Kevin Sukamuljo carries on as the Indonesian pair recorded yet another straight games win to progress to the final of the Fuzhou China Open Super 750 on Saturday.
The Indian duo put on a spirited performance and gave the defending champions a run for their money, but ultimately ended up second best, losing 16-21, 20-22. The Indonesian duo now face either Japan’s Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda or Malaysia’s Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik in the final.
Learning from their loss at the final of the French Open, the Indian shuttlers started off very aggressively, with Rankireddy playing hard smashes at every possible opportunity. Shetty was playing close to the net to take shots quickly in a bid to catch out their Indonesian counterparts. The move seemed to pay dividends early on, as the Indians raced into a 7-4 lead.
However, Gideon and Sukamuljo soon found their groove, for they picked up five points on the trot to take the lead for the first time. From there on, the top-ranked men’s doubles pair always maintained their ascendancy, going into the mid-game interval with a 11-9 lead.
Their rapid movements and ability to find gaps was causing all sorts of problems for the Indian shuttlers who were struggling to reach the shuttle at times.
Another aspect which helped Gideon and Sukamuljo was their precise service returns which, in many cases, turned out to be the winners. They never allowed the Indians to take more than two points from their serve, always finding a way to peg them back. That superiority showed on the scoreline, as the top-ranked team won the first game 21-16.
A scoring rampage
The second game began in a similar fashion with the Indians getting into a 3-1 lead after the opening exchanges. After that came a staggering 52-shot rally, where Sukamuljo pushed himself to the limits in his attempts to retrieve some tough returns. That effort paid off as the Indonesians won that point and began controlling the pace of the game.
Their shots were once again proving to be a bane for the Indian shuttlers as, not for the first time on the day, they let their lead slip. This time around though, Shetty and Rankireddy looked sharp on their returns and never allowed the opponents to pick up too many consecutive points and run away with the game. The Indonesians took a narrow 12-11 lead into the mid-game interval but the contest was very much still in the balance.
Post the interval, the Indians played their best badminton of the match as they picked three of the next four points to get a 14-12 lead. But once again, Gideon and Sukamuljo showed their class as they hit back with a few powerful shots that forced the Indians into playing the shuttle out of bounds.
The game though once again narrowly tilted towards the Indian camp in the final minutes, with Shetty and Rankireddy holding on to the lead at 18-16. But the Indonesian shuttlers maintained their composure under pressure to pick up a few quick points and force the game into a tie-break.
From there on, it was all Gideon and Sukamujlo as they picked up two consecutive points, finishing the match with an unstoppable smash into the ground to progress to yet another Fuzhou China Open final.