Star men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty earned India’s first-ever badminton gold medal at the Asian Games with a straight-game win over South Korea’s Choi Solgyu and Kim Wonho in Hangzhou on Saturday. World number 3 Satwik and Chirag, who had become the first Indians to win the Asian championships in 58 years in March this year, extended their sensational run with a 21-18 21-16 win over Choi and Kim, ranked 15th, to achieve their crowing glory. It was also India’s first medal in men’s doubles in 41 years since Leroy D’sa and Pradeep Gandhe won a bronze in 1982 edition. (Asian Games 2023 Medals Tally | Asian Games 2023 Full Schedule)
The medal ensured India’s best-ever performance at the continental champions as they ended with three medals — a men’s doubles gold and a men’s team silver and a men’s singles bronze.
India had won a silver and bronze in the 2018 edition at Jakarta, while bagging five bronze at the 1982 edition.
Satwik and Chirag will become world no. 1 team when BWF releases the ranking chart on Tuesday.
The Indians came into the summit clash with a 2-0 head-to-head count against their opponent. It seemed like a tricky affair as Satwik and Chirag lagged in most part of the opening game which saw both teams producing an immaculate display of attack.
However, the Indian duo kept snapping at the heels of the Koreans and pipped them after overturning a four-point deficit in the opening game in the final moments.
Thereafter, it was a commanding show as Satwik and Chirag slowed down the rallies and kept their nose ahead right from the start to come up trumps.
It was a slugfest from the beginning as the two pairs engaged in a battle of supremacy. The Koreans were up 6-3 with the Indians missing a few shots.
Chirag took some time to get his angles and attack working for him as they narrowed the lead to 7-9. A booming smash from Satwik and a lucky net cord helped the Indians further cut the deficit before Choi and Kim grabbed a narrow two-point advantage at the break.
A series of fast exchanges ensued after resumption with Satwik and Chirah clawing back at 13-13.
Kim looked in awesome form as he charged towards the net and also made a fine return to serve to again establish a two-point lead.
At 17-18, the two pairs engaged in a long fast-paced rally with the Indians clawing back and then Chirag took them to 19-18 with another smash.
The Indian combination dished out two clever serve with Satwik sealing it with a winner in the end.
The Indian pair slightly tweaked its strategy, directing the shots more towards Choi and varying the pace of the rallies and also looking for placements and angles to lead 8-4. Satwik and Chirag then grabbed a 11-7 lead after the Koreans went long.
The pace went up again post interval as the Koreans made it 11-12 but the Indians again pulled away to 16-12. A net error by Choi put India four points away from the gold.
Another long shot from the Koreans and a good serve saw the Indians lead 19-14. The Indian soon earned five match points and they sealed the match when the Koreans made a unforced error.
With this title, the legend of Satwik and Chirag only grew as they now have an Asian Games gold to go with 2022 Commonwealth Games gold, 2022 Thomas Cup title and the 2022 World Championships bronze.
The duo also won the Asia Championships gold, Indonesia Super 1000, Korea Super 500 and Swiss Open Super 300 this year.
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