Satwik vs Chirag face off in game-in-game in Malaysia Open final
Satwik and Chirag (Source: PTI)

When Satwiksairaj Rankireddy’s flick shot hit the net with the score 14-19 in the second game, the relief on Kang Min-hyuk and Seo Seung-jae’s faces was obvious. The team led 20-14 and was one point away from tying the game. Once the game points are down by six points, most pairs will give up on the match and focus on the decider. It’s a near-impossible situation, and while miracles sometimes happen in sports, they are generally rare. But for Satwik and Chirag Shetty, they are becoming commonplace. Although he had saved game points in six consecutive games, it was clear that the Korean world champion was starting to feel nervous.

The Indians were in control and the fans seemed to be rooting for them. In the blink of an eye, the score was 21-20, showing off an amazing turnaround and advancing to the finals was just around the corner. Even at match point, they had no intention of relenting, even though their place in the Malaysia Open final was on the line. Sirag ended the match with a killer smash, and the celebrations immediately began. With the addition of coach Matthias Boe, the year couldn’t have started better for the Brothers of Destruction.

Yes, they will face familiar opponents Liang Weiquan and Wang Chang in the final. In direct competition, he has 1 win and 3 losses against Satwik and Chirag. Still, it’s probably fair to suggest that he will give it his all in the championship game. Full of confidence, they know that if they play to their potential, few, including the Chinese, can challenge them. Messrs. Liang and Wang took similar measures in 2023, but there is a good chance they will reverse the situation in 2024.

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“If I don’t do very well, I know that Shetty bhai will be in the backcourt and lead the charge,” Satwick told RevSportz a week ago. “I feel safe and protected, and that’s the best part of our partnership.” It’s this belief in each other’s abilities that sets them apart. “We learned to play in the important points and that’s what’s different about us now,” Chirag said. “When we play at these points, we don’t try anything new and just do what works for us. Most of the time we get it.”

It is therefore no surprise that the first Super 1000 final of the year will be between the two best teams in the world at the moment. Mr. Liang and Mr. Wang are not pushovers either. In the match against Fajar Alfian and Mohammad Ardianto, they did not appear in the first leg. And everything was even until half of the second half. That’s when they upped their game a few notches and managed to take the lead. And that’s exactly what the Indians will need to defend in the finals. The matchup between Liang and Wang will never end until it actually ends, and it’s expected to be a long and grueling match. Pairs that can maintain concentration during critical moments and seize the slightest openings can win.

As for me, I would put my money towards Satwik and Chirag. As mentioned earlier, there are very few pairs in the world that can compete with them when they are at their best. Indonesians and Koreans have already won this tournament. Along with Sirag and Satwik, they are hungry for victory. They had a bad record against Chia and So and were determined to overcome their mental block. They did so right away. They will know that Liang and Wang are becoming similar enemies and may become mental obstacles in the future. You try to make them a little bit more hungry, if that’s possible. He is in good shape and fitness, so he will be able to compete in the finals. Defensively, they are now a much better unit, as was evident against Korea. And most importantly, they bond like never before.

The Malaysia Open final could be the start of many matches between the pair this year, including the all-important 2024 Paris Olympics. The Chinese pair stands between India and the Paris Olympics gold medal. Perhaps that’s why the final is more important. He wanted to test himself against the best players and give himself the confidence that he could beat Liang and Wang any time. There is also a possibility that two finals will be played on Sunday. One against Liang and Wang, and his one against themselves. If Satwik and Chirag had won the second time, they would have won the first time as well. And it would be foolish to bet that they would.

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