India’s rising men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty continued their splendid form to beat the World No. 6 pair of Hiroyuki Endo and Yuta Watanabe of Japan and move into the final of the 2019 French Open in Paris on Saturday.
The match that lasted 50 minutes saw the Indians display both their dominant as well as their gritty side to record a 21-11, 25-23 win at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin. They will take on the top seeds and last year’s finalists Marcus Gideon and Kevin Sukamuljo of Indonesia with an eye on their second BWF Tour title of the season.
High on confidence
Having beaten the reigning world champions and medallists at the European Games en route to their semi-final, Rankireddy and Shetty were riding high on confidence. And that positive attitude was visible in their approach as they barely let their opponents settle in before taking the fight to them in the last-four tie.
While Shetty, an exceptional front-court player, came up with some delightful drop shots and close-range racquet work to keep Endo stuck to the net, Rankireddy dominated the far side, playing with a purpose, returning the flicks and closing the rallies with his powerful and steep smashes.
Leading the opening game 11-6 at the mid-game interval, the Indians were in no mood to slow down as they kept their feet firmly on the pedal and looked in a hurry to put the game to rest.
Though the Japanese tried to shift the tie by upping the pace of the rallies — something that had the Indians momentarily confounded — the ploy didn’t work for long as Shetty altered his game and produced some quality interceptions that left the Japanese gasping for breath.
Back in it
With the opening game wrapped up in 15 minutes, the Indians once again looked in a hurry to pocket the match. But this time, Endo and Watanabe were alert and countered the Indians with powerful drives and smart angles to pocket their winners.
Pushed on to the back foot, Rankireddy and Shetty didn’t give up and stayed in the game, chipping in with points of their own at regular intervals. And when the Japanese looked a bit exhausted, they pounced on the opportunity to win six straight points and move ahead in the game.
While an Indian win looked certain as the game reached its climax, the Japanese were not done yet as they once again showed their class to defend four match points before surrendering the tie to their determined opponents. Having failed to win a single game in their previous two meetings, the Indians signed off the day with their first win over the Japanese pair of Endo and Watanabe.