NEW DELHI: India's Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty continued their extraordinary performance, achieving victory in the men's doubles title at the prestigious Korea Open.
The dynamic duo displayed exceptional determination, overcoming top-ranked Fajar Alfian and Muhamad Rian Ardianto in a thrilling three-game final on Sunday.
In their fourth final appearance this year, the world No. 3 Indian pair exhibited resilience and skill, securing a hard-fought 17-21, 21-13, 21-14 triumph over the two-time world championships bronze medalists, Alfian and Ardianto, in the Super 500 badminton tournament's summit clash.
Satwik and Chirag, who previously secured the 2022 Commonwealth Games championship, extended their remarkable winning streak to 10 matches. Adding to their accolades, they had already tasted victory at the Swiss Open, Asian Championships, and Indonesia Open earlier in the year.
Having a head-to-head record of 2-2 against the Asian Games silver medalists, Alfian and Ardianto, the Indian duo managed to claim victory in their last two encounters with the Indonesians.
While they initially faced some challenges in the opening game and lagged behind, Satwik and Chirag showcased their fighting spirit, making an impressive comeback from a 10-19 deficit with a six-point surge, although they narrowly missed clinching the game. Nonetheless, they turned the tide in the following games to emerge victorious and etch their names in badminton history.
However, they found the momentum in the second game and dominated the proceedings thereafter to come up trumps.
The Indonesians played flat rallies at a high pace to open up a 4-2 lead early on. The Indians were pegged back as Alfian and Ardianto didn't allow their opponents to mount their attack.
Errors also crept in as Satwik and Chirag conceded a seven-point advantage to their rivals at the break.
The Indians won a few quick points but the Indonesians managed to move away to 16-7 after Ardianto smashed one down the middle.
Another down-the-middle smash from Ardianto took the Indonesians to 19-11. Satwik and Chirag won next three points before playing an exciting rally which ended with the Indonesians going to the net.
A booming jump smash from Satwik further cut down the deficit to three points but he sent one wide to hand four game points to the Indonesians.
The Indians saved one with Chirag's cross court return before Satwik sprayed one to the net.
The second game started on an even keel with the two pairs engaging in some delectable rallies. The Indians infused more power and pace into their game as they started to dominate the rallies.
The Indians opened up a slender 6-4 lead after a Chirag interception and maintained it till 10-8, with Satwik unleashing his trademark smash.
The Indian duo had a cushion of three points at the break when the Indonesians went wide.
A cross court return from the front court from Chirag took them to 17-11.
Soon Satwik and Chirag grabbed nine game points. They squandered two before Chirag sent one down the middle to take the match to the decider.
Satwik and Chirag looked in control in the third game, eking out a 9-6 lead before going into the interval at 11-8.
The Indians were more aggressive and managed to keep the world number 1 pair under the pump.
After resumption, a Chirag interception helped the Indians keep the three-point lead at 13-10. Alfian and Ardianto looked a pale shadow as nothing was going their way.
Satwik and Chirag also dominated the flat exchanges and soon it was 18-12 for the Indians. Alfian produced a superb backhand return but sprayed the next one to the net to hand over seven match points to the Indians.
They wasted one before converting the next, and broke into a gangnam style dance to celebrate their victory.
Since pairing up, Satwik and Chirag have won multiple titles, including Commonwealth Games gold, Thomas Cup gold, bronze medal in World Championships and wins in Super 300 (Syed Modi and Swiss Open), Super 500 (Thailand and India Open), Super 750 (French Open) and Indonesia Open Super 1000.
The BWF World Tour is divided into six levels, namely World Tour Finals, four Super 1000, six Super 750, seven Super 500, and 11 Super 300.
One other category of the tournament, the BWF Tour Super 100 level, also offers ranking points.
(With inputs from PTI)