The Indian duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty won a historic medal at the World Championships in Tokyo and became the first-ever Indian pair to claim a medal in the men’s doubles competition.
Ranked number seven in the world, the Indian pair defeated the world number two Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi of Japan in the quarterfinals.
They outwitted the locals and defending champions 24-22 15-21 21-14 in an hour and 15 minutes to claim their maiden medal at the prestigious tournament. The Indian shuttlers had also claimed the Commonwealth Games gold medal earlier this month.
Having assured themselves of at least a bronze, Satwik and Chirag will now face the sixth-seeded Malaysian pair of Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik in the semifinals.
Satwik and Chirag came out with a lot of intent as they dominated the proceedings early on to establish a lead of 12-5 in the first game but the Japanese pair reeled off seven points on the trot to eke out a 16-14 advantage
However, the Indian duo was up for the task as it fought tooth and nail to ensure it had the advantage after the opening game.
Takuro and Yugo made a strong comeback in the second game after breaking off at 9-9 following a tight battle.
With the match hanging in balance, the Indian pair once again found its bearings as the two strengthened their defense and mounted an attack to lead 11-5 at the interval.
Satwik and Chirag then extended the lead to 14-8 when the Indians were called for a fault for touching the net during a return. The duo lost the point but soon managed to put that behind, leading 16-9.
Yugo produced some sensational shots, including a powerful smash and a cross-court return, to keep the Japanese duo’s chances alive with three points.
Two shots going wide from the Japanese duo put India a couple of points away from the win at 19-13.
The Indians then grabbed seven match points with another superb return which their opponents failed to negotiate.
A tad nervous, Satwik faltered on his serve next but Yugo sent the shuttle to the net as Chirag let out a cry in celebration.
India’s Long quest for the medal
It was India’s second World Championships medal in the doubles event with Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa claiming a bronze way back in 2011 in the women’s doubles. MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila’s fine run came to an end after the Indian pair lost to three-time gold medallists Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan in another men’s doubles quarterfinals.
Earlier, Indians had defeated eighth seeds Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen of Denmark in the second round.