Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty on Sunday became the first Indian pair to win a BWF Super 500 badminton tournament with a hard-fought victory over Li Jun Hui and Liu Yu Chen of China in the summit clash of Thailand Open here. After fighting hard for an hour and two minutes, the unseeded Indian duo prevailed 21-19 18-21 21-18 over the third-seeded Chinese pair.
Rankireddy and Shetty got off to a nice beginning as they broke off from 3-3 soon and moved forward to open a 10-6 lead, but their Chinese opponents kept breathing their necks down and made it 14-14.
After that, it was a tightly fought affair, and only at 20-18 could the world No.16 Indian pair take a slight advantage.
Although the Chinese duo further narrowed the gap to 19-20, the Indians succeeded in winning the vital point to wrap up the first game.
The Indians succeeded in taking an upper hand in the second game as they moved to a 6-2 lead, but the Chinese soon bridged the gap to 5-6 before catching up with them at 11-11.
After the interval, the Chinese duo surged ahead to 13-11 but the Indians lifted their game and drew parity at 13 apiece.
The Indians then overtook their opponents to 16-14 and then climbed up to 18-16 before the Chinese pair won five consecutive points to stun the Indians and take the match to the decider.
Rankireddy and Shetty were slow off the blocks in the third game but managed to make it 6-6. The Indians never looked away from there and maintained their composure to keep the edge of their competitors until the end.
Even though the Chinese pair fought back and at one stage reduced the gap to 18-19, the Indians looked in no mood to climb down and went on to pocket two consecutive points to seal the match in their favor.
Writer: Himani Ranade