Satwik-Chirag assured of Asian Championship medal
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty continue to go deep into tournaments, and the latest ensured them a medal at the Badminton Asia Championships 2023 in Dubai on Friday. It came from an impressive 21-11, 21-12 win over Daddies, Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan in a blitzing 27 minutes in the quarterfinals.
Relentless cross attacks saw the Indian duo keep the shuttle within the confines in short, snappy flat exchanges as the Daddies were peppered with smashes. The Indians took off from 8-8 in the first and 6-6 in the second and were always in the ascendance in a rather unexpected one-sided encounter. Working to a plan by Mathias Boe, the sixth seeds offered little respite to the Indonesians, despite some delectable returns from the Daddies.
The Indonesians, seeded 3rd attempted to slow down the pace and prolong the rallies without much success, and the Indians kept chipping away with the winners in quick exchanges to win India a men’s doubles medal after 52 years at the BAC.
The Indians next take on Olympic champions, Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin of Taiwan in the semifinals. The pairings are 1-1 in head to head, with the Indians having beaten their opponents in the group stages of Olympics which the Taiwanese won, but having lost to them at the Thomas Cup which the Indians won.
Sindhu shows improvement
The matchup now reads 6-0 in favour of An Se Young and the second and third sets were absolute routs but PV Sindhu was onto something significant in her quarterfinal against the Korean. Having never previously managed to do so, she nicked the opening set 21-18 off the Korean, but went down 21-5, 21-9 subsequently.
The difference in the opener was a changed strategy that Sindhu had mentioned to the media at Dubai after beating Han Yue in Round 2. It saw the Indian pin Se Young on her backhand to the back court repeatedly and open up the front court, while charging the net. The plan worked as Sindhu stayed level with the Korean, and having put pressure on her, closed out the opener.
Post the Han Yue match, Sindhu had told the BAC media, “I didn’t expect to win it in straight games, but happy to get the confidence ahead of tougher matches. It won’t be easy tomorrow as I face An Se Young. I haven’t had good record against her, but I will go out with all confidence. It will be an important match for me and I hope to play with a new strategy to win against her. I will try to engage her in rallies and try to not give away the lead.”
When she stayed neck and neck with Se Young, she gave herself a chance and pocketed the first.
But all Se Young had to do was increase her pace to turn on the tap, and her attack would end all semblance of defiance from Sindhu thereafter. Yet, briefly in the first with her defense intact and her netplay razor-sharp, Sindhu could push the Korean second seed on the backfoot even if she handed her a thrashing post that first set when they seemed equal.
HS Prannoy retied trailing 21-11, 13-9 against Kanta Tsuneyama of Japan leading to some worries over his fitness two weeks before he’s expected to spearhead the Indian challenge at the Sudirman Cup. Prannoy, a former medallist at the BAC, is India’s highest ranked men’s singles player.