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Satwik-Chirag set to reclaim world no.1 ranking after annihilating Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik



New Delhi: Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty reached their second straight final in two weeks in a row on the BWF World Tour on Saturday at the KD Jadhav Indoor Hall in New Delhi, as they beat their arch-nemesis Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik of Malaysia in the India Open Super 750 men’s doubles semifinal.

Last week, Satwik and Chirag reached the season-opening Malaysia Open Super 1000 final but lost to Liang Wei Keng and Wang Cheng of China.

Now, following their ascendency to the India Open final, the Indian pair, who became the world no. 1 in October last year following their Asian Games gold medal-winning show in Hangzhou before losing the spot to Liang and Wang, will reclaim the spot in the men’s doubles category.

The Indian pair defeated former world champions Chia and Wooi Yik in straight games (21-18, 21-14). They made a superb comeback in the second game after trailing 8-11 in the mid-game as they claimed a 21-14 win in the presence of a home crowd in a full-packed stadium. Satwik-Chirag won the first game 21-18.

They will regain the world no. 1 spot after the wait of 12 weeks when the BWF updates the world rankings on Tuesday. Last year, they became the first-ever Indian doubles pair to become the world no.1 after their Asian Games heroics in China.

But the ranking does not hold any importance to the Indian pair as told by Chirag after their thumping win in the semifinals on Saturday night.

“We really don’t give any importance to the world rankings. It keeps on changing every week. Our aim is to go for as many titles as possible and go deep into the tournament,” Chirag said.

‘We know we can win’

Going into the semifinal, Satwik and Chirag didn’t have a favourable head-to-head record against the Malaysians, who held an 8-2 record against the Indians.

But now, Chia and Wooi Yik are winless against Satwik and Chirag for three matches in a row. Since their defeat in the Indonesia Open final last year, they could not win a single match against the Indian duo.

At the India Open, beating them for the third time in a row, Satwik and Chirag proved that they overcame the mental barrier against Chia and Wooi Yik.

“I feel that head-to-head record does not really matter, anybody can win on any day based on the preparation you have,” said Chirag.

“When we were playing them last year everyone was saying it is 7-0 or 8-0. You never won that was the problem but I was confident that even if we lost ten times, we would get one win for sure. It was my motto and once we crossed that barrier it was no looking back. It took us a while to cross that line but now the fear is out and we know that we can win against them,” asserted Chirag.

“We might have lost eight times but when it really mattered at the Asian Games, we won against them,” he added.

On Saturday, Satwik and Chirag delivered and entertained the crowd by showcasing their defensive offence. In the first game, there was a minimal gap of only 1-2 points throughout the game but at 17-17, the Indian pair showed more composure and grabbed three consecutive points to claim the game 21-18.

The Malaysian duo put up a fight back in the second game with a constant attack to take an early lead of 11-7 which Satwik-Chirag quickly bridged before claiming a 15-14 lead with their fierce smashes, especially from Chirag. They continued this momentum and wrapped up the game, winning six straight points.

“It was a good win for us for sure as it is always challenging when we play Aaron and Soh. This time also it was very close till 17-17 but then we stayed calm and eventually took the game. In the second game, we started a little slow, but in the end we got our rhythm back, the crowd support helped us a lot. We love playing whenever the crowd cheers us” Chirag said.

“It really amazing to see so much crowd that late at night, its need a strong motivation to do that. I hope even more crowd will come for the final,” Chirag added.

‘We will give our 100 per cent’

In the final, Satwik and Chirag will be up against the world champions Kang Min Hyuk and Seo Seung Jae of South Korea. The Indian pair enjoys a 4-1 head-to-head record against them; they won against them in the Malaysia Open last week.

“Playing in a home tournament is very special. Last year we could not complete the tournament and now we are in the final against a formidable pair of Kang and Seo. We will try to give our 100 per cent, and if we do that we will definitely win. The men’s doubles discipline is also a very competitive sector these days, it is not so easy to reach the final every time,” Chirag concluded.





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