Malaysia Open Badminton: Satwik Sirag is world champion on stage, advances to finals

Just before leaving for Kuala Lumpur to play in the Malaysia Open, Chirag Shetty felt a little depressed. “Unfortunately, I will not be able to receive the award. Even if a ceremony is held later, it is unlikely that I will receive the award from the president,” the top doubles shuttler lamented.

India’s Chirag Shetty (R) and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (AFP)

Shetty was referring to the National Sports Award presented on Tuesday, where he was scheduled to receive the country’s highest sports award, Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna, along with his doubles partner Satwiksairaj Rankireddy. , had to miss that ceremony to participate in a $1.3 million tournament in Kuala. Lumpur.

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However, Shetty and Rankireddy made their decision meaningful by reaching the final of the first tournament of the year, and that too in spectacular fashion.

India’s world No. 2 pair won the first match without ever giving up the lead, but lost to reigning world champions Kang Min-hyuk and Seo Seung-jae 11-18 and the second match 14-20. . The Asian champions made a sensational comeback against the Koreans, winning eight consecutive points on Shetty’s serve and winning 21-18, 22-20 in 47 minutes, advancing to the final at Axiata Arena.

“I don’t remember ever winning a game 20-14. Every point from there was an easy point. We pretty much dominated those eight points, except maybe the 19 points. There was a 50-50 chance that he would fall. He played very well by keeping the shuttle low and not giving him any chances,” Shetty said.

They were ecstatic and Shetty fell to the floor with his fists raised. Rankireddy performed a typical victory dance and coach Matthias Bo jumped onto a courtside chair and smashed his chest against him.

This is an important win as world number three Kang and Seo continue their sensational form and end 2023 with the prestigious BWF World Tour Finals title. Southpaw Soh was named the 2023 BWF Male Player of the Year last month.

With Shetty and Rankireddy’s fourth win in five encounters against the Koreans, they will be chasing a piece of history on Sunday. The Malaysian Open was held for the first time in his year 1937 and no Indian has won the title across categories.

Additionally, the Malaysian Open is one of the four Super 1000 tournaments along with the British Open, Indonesian Open, and China Open. The Asian Games gold medalist is also the only Indian to win the BWF World Tour’s pinnacle Super 1000 event. They achieved that last year by winning the Indonesia Open.

Sunday will be a battle of giants, but standing in the way are China’s world number one Liang Weiken and Wang Zhang, who has reached seven finals, including the Malaysian Open in 2023. They have a 3-1 record against Shetty and Rankireddy, including a win in the semi-finals in Kuala Lumpur last year.

But Rankildee has other concerns. “I have to do the laundry,” the 23-year-old laughed. “The important thing is that we don’t have any clothes for the finals. We’ll do the laundry, go to bed, and hopefully at the end we can play some good badminton and entertain people. We don’t think about the result. Is not.”

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