Rankireddy/Shetty in Quarters – Day 3: Victor Korea Open 2017
Thursday, September 14, 2017
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty showcased rising Indian prowess in Men’s Doubles, beating No.7 seeds Lee Jhe-Huei/Lee Yang in the second round of the Victor Korea Open today.

The young Indian duo will make their maiden appearance in a Superseries quarter-final tomorrow.

Rankireddy and Shetty were sharp from the outset, matching their hard-hitting Chinese Taipei opponents in the quick-fire exchanges and keeping their composure at the end of a tense first game. Shetty was a revelation at the front with his interceptions, while his partner kept banging down big smashes from the back. Although their opponents fought their way back in by taking the second, the Indians had plenty in reserve in the decider, in which they shot off to a 10-2 lead and never let go. The 23-21 16-21 21-8 result gave them a quarter-final place against Japan’s Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda.

“It’s unreal,” said Shetty. “We didn’t expect to enter the quarter-finals. Coming in, we had a bad show at the World Championships. This is the biggest victory we’ve had. It’s a big boost for us.”

Rankireddy said the experience of having played qualifying matches in Mixed Doubles helped him adjust to the drift in the hall.

“I played the qualifying rounds, so I knew the direction of the drift and that made it easier to control the shuttle. We played a Chinese Taipei pair in the first round. They play the same style – a lot of drives. We knew that if they play that style, we could keep the shuttle down and control the rallies. We just stuck to the plan.”

In the top half, Mads Conrad-Petersen and Mads Pieler Kolding set up an all-Danish quarter-final against Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen after a hard-fought 21-15 17-21 21-17 result over upcoming Koreans Chung Eui Seok/Kim Duk Young.

The Danes had the upper hand for most of the second game but let the advantage slip, and with the crowd behind them, the Koreans started to get more incisive. At the death, however, the Danes gave the Koreans nothing to work with and slammed the door shut.

“Windy conditions on court 4 – it was difficult to play our absolute best, but we tried to be our absolute best mentally. That’s what gave us the victory,” said Conrad-Petersen.

“We were in control in the second, and we lost 6-7 points in a row. So instead of going after each shuttle and trying to win the point, we went back to basics, and we were the better pair.”

They’re difficult, they’re a typical Korean pair,” added Kolding. “You’ve to get used to getting a lot of shuttles back, no matter how good you play. They keep on fighting. Even when you think you’ve won the rally, they get it back.”

Japan suffered a couple of blows in Women’s Doubles, with World Championships runners-up Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota and India Open champions Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto both falling.

It was Indonesia’s new pair Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu who stopped No.7 seeds Fukushima/Hirota with their aggressive brand of badminton. Relentless in attack and resolute in defence, the Indonesians wore down the Japanese 14-21 21-17 21-13.

“We were confident that we have the game to beat them,” said Polii. “We were determined to not be scared and we not lose it in the mind. That was the key. We know the Japanese are all good physically and in the long rallies, and they don’t make mistakes. It was about not letting ourselves get down mentally.”

The Indonesians face another Japanese pair – top seeds Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi – in the quarter-finals.

Tanaka/Yonemoto were beaten by Korea’s Kim Hye Rin/Yoo Hae Won, but another Japanese pair – Wakana Nagahara/Mayu Matsumoto salvaged the day by beating fourth seeds and defending champions Jung Kyung Eun/Shin Seung Chan 14-21 22-20 21-14.

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