Former champions Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty were a step away from their first title of the season, progressing to a second successive final with a victory over Tokyo Olympics bronze medallists Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik of Malaysia at the India Open Super 750 on Saturday. World No. 2 Indians, who had finished runner-up at Malaysia Open Super 1000 last week, showed nerves of steel as they kept a sustained pressure on Aaron and Soh, the 2022 World champions, to eke out a 21-18 21-14 in a thrilling semifinal clash. Satwik broke into a dance as Chirag jumped into his arms as the duo celebrated after they won 11 of the last 12 points in the second game to emerge victories. It was only their third win against the Malaysian combination.
The win ensured the home challenge was alive in the Super 750 tournament after HS Prannoy was completely outplayed by world no. 2 Shi Yu Qi of China 21-15 21-5 win in what turned out to be a lop-sided contest at the KD Jadhav Indoor Hall here.
Satwik and Chirag, who had won the 2022 edition, will face third seeded Koreans Kang Min Hyuk and Seo Seung Jae in the summit clash.
The match was halted at 13-13 in the second game after Chirag’s return hit Aaron’s eyes during a fierce rally but he seemed okay as play was resumed after some time though the Indians pair completely dominated the proceedings there after.
Earlier, Prannoy, the World No. 9 Indian, matched his rival in the initial phase but after 14-14 in the opening game, he faded into oblivion as Shi Yu Qi registered a 21-15 21-5 win in what turned out to be a lop-sided contest at the KD Jadhav Indoor Hall here.
Shi Yu Qi moved with ease across the court and played with patience and precision to outwit Prannoy, who looked sloppy in the second game.
In the opening game, Prannoy opened up a 6-3 lead with two steep returns and after winning a net duel. A backhand going to net and another net error from the Indian brought Shi Yu Qi back at 6-6.
The Chinese played a couple of nice-looking around the head smashes to move to 10-8. Prannoy again clawed back before Shi Yu Qi entered the break with a one-point advantage with another precise smash.
The two engaged in a fierce battle as lead changed hands too frequently, moving together till 14-14.
But the Indian seemed to have lost his focus there after as sprayed his service into the net and then Shi Yuqi produced a net kill and a smash to move to 17-14.
Another smash on his opponent forehand and it was five-game points for the Chinese, who converted it by sending another one away from Prannoy.
After the change of sides, Prannoy just didn’t look in his element as Shi Yu Qi looked by far the better player as his net play was polished and he played some superb drops to open up a 6-3 lead.
The Chinese looked in control as he dictated the rallies and often finished the points unleashing his precise smashes on the flanks.
Prannoy failed to curb his errors as his blocks went to net and lifts long. Soon Shi Yu Qi held a handsome 11-4 advantage at the break.
The Chinese looked patient as he took pace off the rallies using his drops and half smashes, reverse hits and drew errors from his opponent.
Prannoy body language said it all as he couldn’t put any pressure on his fancied opponent. In a jiffy it was 17-5 in the Chinese favour. He took 15 match points and sealed it when the Indian went long again.
“I think the first game was quite posed but I gave 2-3 points in the end. I was not able to move well in the second game. All credit to him, he has some good shots. Happy that could reach semifinals but still a lot work need to be done to go on and win tournaments,” he said.
“It’s better not to analyse too much now. It is a learning lesson. Hope I can do better next time.” In the finals, Shi Yu Qi will face Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk Yiu, who stunned World Championships silver medallist Kodai Naraoka of Japan 21-13 15-21 21-19 to qualify for his first Super 750 men’s singles final at the India Open.
The World No. 18 Lee had reached the finals at Hylo Open super 300 and Thailand Open super 500 last year.
In women’s singles, China’s Chen Yu Fei overcame compatriot Wang Zhi Yi in straight games to set up a women’s singles final against Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying in a rematch of the Tokyo Olympics summit clash here.
Tokyo Olympic gold medallist Chen Yu Fei beat Wang Zhi Yi 21-13 21-18 in the semi-finals, while Tai Tzu Ying progressed to her second successive women’s singles final of the season with a 21-13 21-18 win over world no. 20 Yeo Jia Min in the first women’s singles semifinal.
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