Thursday, December 8, 2022

Satwik-Chirag enter French Open final

Commonwealth Games champion Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty progressed to the men’s doubles final of the French Open Super 750 badminton tournament with a commanding straight-game win over Korean pair of Choi Sol Gyu and Kim Won Ho, here on Saturday.
The world number 8 Indian pair dished out an attacking game and also controlled the net well to outwit the Korean combination, ranked 18th, 21-18 21-14 in the semifinals that lasted 45 minutes. The Indian pair, seeded seventh, thus reached its second final of a BWF world tour event in 2022, having won the India Open Super 500 tournament in January earlier this year.
Satwik and Chirag, who had won a bronze medal at the World Championships in August, will play the winner of the other semifinal between England’s Ben Lane and Sean Vendy and Chinese Taipei’s Lu Ching Yao and Yang Po Han.
Up against opponents whom they have never played before, Chirag was relentless at the front court, while Satwik unleashed his booming smashes from the back as the Indians put up a clinical show at Stade Pierre de Coubertin. Satwik and Chirag, the 2019 edition’s runner-up pair, never looked in trouble as they kept things in their grip right from the start. The Indians came up with an all-out attack and were up 2-0 early on and despite the Koreans managing to claw back at 7-7, Satwik and Chirag ensured they were four points ahead at the mid game interval.
After the break, the Koreans briefly tried to dictate the pace of the rallies with their returns getting steeper. Soon they were 16-13 up, but an alert Chirag produced a precise return to keep moving ahead.
With the Indians hitting the net and out of the court on a number of occasions, the Koreans brought the equation down to 18-19 but Choi then committed an unforced error to hand two game points to their opponents.
Chirag then sealed the opening game with a precise smash.
The Indian combination continued with their aggressive game plan in the second game which saw some good rallies early on. After 3-3, Satwik and Chirag moved to a 7-4 lead.
The Koreans, however, rallied their way back to 9-10 after a slew of exchanges but Chirag unleashed a smash to give themselves a two-point cushion at the interval.
Chirag took control of the front court as he was more alert and produced some good shots even as the Korean pair found the going tough to lag 10-15.
Two net errors from Korea took the Indian pair to 18-12. A deceptive return-to-serve gave the Koreans one more point but Chirag responded with a body return.
Choi then hit wide to hand six match points to the Indians and Chirag sealed it with a smash and raised his arm even as his partner Satwik broke into a dance.

Marin beats Yamaguchi to reach women’s singles final

Carolina Marin

Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallist Carolina Marin defeated reigning two-time world champion Akane Yamaguchi 21-14, 21-18 to reach the women’s singles final at the French Open 2022 badminton tournament, here on Saturday. Marin, who needed 47 minutes to defeat Japan’s Yamaguchi in the semifinal, will face the winner between China’s He Bing Jiao and Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying, in the final.
After recovering from an ACL injury that prevented her from defending her Olympic title in Tokyo, the Spaniard won the European Championships crown in April. On Sunday, she will seek title number 35 of her career.
It will be for the first time in two years that the 29-year-old will play a final of a World Tour Super 750 tournament. The last time she played a final of a BWF World Tour Super 750 tournament was in Odense, Denmark, in October 2020.
In her best victory since returning to the circuit, Marin dominated throughout, varying direction and pace of play toward an increasingly exhausted opponent.
Yamaguchi had halted Marin’s progress to the podium at recent tournaments, including August’s World Cup in Tokyo, but this time she beat the circuit’s form player.

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