Satwik - Chirag show they belong to the elite as they reach second French Open final

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (L) and Chirag Shetty celebrate victory in their against Choi Sol Gyu and Kim Won Ho at the French Open. Shi Tang/Getty Images

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty are, all things considered, still a young pair on the BWF circuit despite their various firsts for India in men's doubles badminton over the last few years. But the Indian duo showed just how much experience they have gained as they maintained a fine balance of attack and control to reach the final of the French Open Super 750 on Saturday.

The last seeded pair left in a chaotic men's doubles draw, the seventh seeds saw off world No 18 Koreans Choi Sol Gyu and Kim Won Ho 21-18, 21-14 in 45 minutes. It was a self-possessed performance, coming a day after the Indians knocked out top seeds Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi in a commanding display.

This is their second BWF final in 2022, having won the India Open Super 500 tournament in January earlier this year. This is also their second final at the French Open, after one of their burst-onto-the-scene performances back in 2019, when they beat Indonesia's great team of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan ('Daddies') and lost only in the final to Marcus Gideon and Kevin Sukamuljo ('Minions').

This semifinal was the first meeting between the Indians and the Koreans, and it was an energetic encounter with extremely quick points for most of the first game. Satwik and Chirag powered on and firmly held on to the lead throughout. The Koreans kept pace and the scores were even level at 7-7 before the Indian pulled away and headed into the interval with an 11-7 lead.

Both pairs were looking to attack with quick kills but the Indians were simply better at it, with Chirag Shetty in especially good touch in the front court. The Koreans once again narrowed down the lead with Satwik and Chirag 2 points away, but the Indians won and then converted the game point in one of the first real rallies of the match with Chirag's prowess at the net sealing the deal.

It wasn't like the Indians played a perfect game, with errors seeping in here and there, but they didn't let the mistakes affect their rhythm. That's a quality befitting a top pair on the circuit.

The second game saw a closer contest at the start with the Koreans even taking a one-point lead at the start but Satwik and Chirag stayed firm and headed into the interval at 11-9. From that point on, it was all going the Indians' way, winning four straight points, till yet another service error - this for height - gave them the serve. It didn't matter though because Satwik and Chirag kept up the attack and built another healthy lead, converting the first match point with a body smash, off Chirag's racquet in the front.

There was a lovely moment of celebration afterwards as Satwik showed off his dance moves while Chirag hugged doubles coach Mathias Boe and then the two bowed to the crowd. The duo have won the India Open final in January and the Commonwealth Games as well as India's first World Championship men's doubles medal in August, and they will be headed into this final with lots of confidence.

With the draw opening up - the seeded Indonesians stars losing early, their personal nemeses Malaysia's Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik being stunned in the opener, and them beating the top seeds from Japan - the French Open is now Satwik and Chirag's title to lose. They will play the winner of the other semifinal between England's Ben Lane and Sean Vendy (who they beat in the CWG final) and Chinese Taipei's Lu Ching Yao and Yang Po Han.

But with the way they played a measured aggressive game against the Koreans, almost making a 750 semifinal look routine, it is evident that it's the Indian pair who will start as favourites.