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Satwik-Chirag enters final, hands straight-game defeat to Chinese pair

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty reached the final of China Masters Super 750 in Shenzhen, China, on Saturday.

The former world no. 1 Indian pair, who last played a World Tour final in July at the Korea Open, defeated China’s He Ji Ting and Ren Xiang Yu – last week’s Kumamoto Masters winners in Japan – in straight games (21-15, 22-20) in 50 minutes.

The Indian pair made a quick start, gaining a 5-2 lead. They soon made it 11-6 at the interval, with Chirag coming out of his place to make a superb finish from the net.

After the break, He and Ren tried to bounce back in the match by winning four points. But the Indian pair held their firm control over a fast opening game, making a few clever finishes at the backline.

Satwik and Chirag also showed their defensive prowess to convert it to offences. The Indian pair made a light work of the Chinese pair after the break to win the game 21-15.

In the second game, He and Ren fought back to gain an 11-8 lead at the interval. But it was a close game, with both the pairings fighting for the lead in every point.

Ren and He split Satwik and Chirag’s defence on a couple of occasions to win crucial points. They also forced Satwik to play into the net. But the Indian pair did not lose hope as they drew level at 14-14 before gaining a two-point lead at 17-15.

It was at this stage, the game tilted in Satwik-Chirag’s favour as their deft placement over He and Ren earned points. He and Ren also missed the trick by leaving their backcourt open.

Satwik and Chirag were also relentless with their smashing to earn points. They gained a 20-19 lead, but the Chinese were quick to spoil the Indian pair’s first match point at 20-20. The Indians, however, did not wait too long as Satwik’s mighty crosscourt smash was too hard for He to attempt a return.

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