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Satwik-Chirag’s winning march in final ends at China Masters 2023

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty saved match points in an incredible effort in the men’s doubles final of the China Masters in Shenzhen, China, on Sunday. Yet, the Indian pair went down in an intense and furious match that lasted for an hour and 11 minutes.

The former world no. 1 lost 19-21, 21-18, 19-21 to the current world no. 1 pair of China Liang Wei Keng and Wang Chang.

With this defeat, Satwik and Chirag’s incredible winning march in the final, starting in January 2022, ended.

Prior to their loss at the China Masters, a Super 750 event, the Indian pair won eight straight finals.

At court 1 of the Shenzhen Bay Gymnasium, Satwik-Chirag conceded a 7-3 lead in the opening game. Wei Keng and Chang led 11-9 at the interval, but post break, Satwik and Chirag drew the game level thrice – first at 15-15, and then at 16-16, and finally at 19-19, but the Chinese pair managed to gain the opening game lead at 21-19.

In the second game, Satwik and Chirag started on the back foot as they trailed 5-9 in front of Wei Keng and Chang’s intense smashing. They breached Satwik’s defence on several occasions. But the Indian pair staged a fightback to gain a slender lead at the interval.

Satwik and Chirag played with immense vigour to beat the Chinese pair in a crisscrossing play. Despite Wei Keng and Chang’s solid defence, Satwik’s towering presence at the net helped the Indian pair win crucial points with smashes as they forced the decider, winning the second game 21-18.

In the deciding third game, Wei Keng and Chang marched to a 5-0 lead as the Indian pair found it difficult to negotiate Chang’s precise and hard smashes that ran into Satwik and Chirag’s bodies.

Though the Indian pair won six points, the Chinese were successful in earning a five-point lead at the interval.

After the break, Satwik and Chirag won three points on the trot to trail 10-18. The Chinese pair would soon reach the match point opportunity at 20-13.

When things started looking odd for the Indians, they showed their fighting spirit under pressure. Satwik and Chirag won seven straight points to give the rousing Chinese supporters a nervy moment.

However, at 19-20, Satwik’s backhand return ruffled the net and that helped Wei Keng and Chang prevail in the final. It was their fifth World Tour title.

Satwik-Chirag, who played brilliantly all through the tournament, will return home for the Syed Modi International, holding their heads high for their ability to put up an intense fight under pressure.

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