Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty beat China's Ren Xiang Yu and Tan Qiang 21-19, 24-22 in the Swiss Open 2023, a Super 300 event. The world no. 6 pair beat the world no. 21 pair in a little under an hour. It was a dominant display against a pair that had not dropped a game all tournament long.
This was Rankireddy-Shetty's first BWF doubles title of the year, and the fifth World Tour title in their career.
The title comes as a welcome relief after they had crossed the round-of-16 stage in just one of five other tournaments in 2023 (when they lost the final of the Malaysia Open in the final). It'd been an injury plagued season till now, with Rankireddy laid off for a month, which also saw him miss India's win in the Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships.
In Basel, Shetty and Rankireddy started strong, before trading a couple of points with their opponents; Rankireddy's return of serve in particular troubling the Chinese pair. Service oscillated between the two teams till a powerful Ren smash drew the scores level at 6-6. Rankireddy's quick reflexes at the net, though, saw them retake the lead at 7-6 immediately after.
The Indians then found consistency to go up 10-7, their defence on point against the aggressive Tan and Ren. This saw them go into the mid-game interval 11-8 up.
They picked up where they left off after the break, building a 15-10 lead through a series of quick rallies and forceful smashes. Shetty's aggression came to the fore as they kept at it through 16-11, 17-12 and 18-13.
Tan's brilliant net-play saw them claw it back to 18-15; Shetty then left a long clear from Ren which was called in. The Indians immediately challenged it, but they were unsuccessful and the Chinese were back in the game at 18-16.
Superb mid-court coverage then saw them cut the Indians' lead to 18-17 but Shetty and Rankireddy mobbed the net right off the serve, and that gave them a 19-17 lead. A sensational rally ensued, with Rankireddy and Shetty's defence tested to the hilt, but a missed shot at the net from the former saw the lead close to 19-18. A powerful Shetty smash gave them two match points. Tan's aggression saved one, but could do nothing about the other as Shetty delivered a cross-court smash. 21-19 and the opening game was the Indians'.
Shetty and Rankireddy took the opening point of the second game with the same aggressive play they had showcased in the first. The points kept oscillating through a series of outstanding rallies till Ren's guile saw the Chinese take a 2-4 lead.
Shetty's aggression, though, was emphasised on the next point, which he won with a series of smashes that started on the backline and ended at the net. That turned the momentum of the game and Rankireddy-Shetty pulled out to a 6-4 lead, powered by Shetty's forecourt dominance.
Tan's power game, though, saw the Chinese come back to 8-8 before Shetty's net game came to the fore again. Going into the break, Rankireddy-Shetty led 11-9.
Tan, knowing survival in the match was at stake, started on the front foot immediately after the mid-game break and they pulled the game level at 11-11. Another excellent service return from Rankireddy, though, gave the Indians back the lead, and they didn't let the serve go till 14-11, when Ren's clever disguised drop down the line befuddled the Indian pair.
Another excellent service return from Rankireddy, though, gave the Indians back the lead, and they didn't let the serve go till 14-11, when Ren's clever disguised drop down the line befuddled the Indian pair.
Shetty, though, stood and delivered at the net - three powerful smashes down the middle giving his team the lead again at 17-16. Another quick exchange of serves and it was 18-17 for the Indians. Clever play at the forecourt from Shetty once again forced an error from Ren-Tan to extend the lead to 19-17.
The Chinese pulled one back, but a straight smash from Shetty gave the Indians game-match-and-championship point at 20-18. Ren-Tan then forced a brilliant rally (Rankireddy's incredible defence standing out) to claw it back to 20-19. A lucky net cord flick then saw Tan's clear land in no-man's land and the scores were level.
Shetty got a third game point with a cross-court smash (21-20) and once again a net cord flick saved Ren-Tan, and brought the scores level. Sensational defence from Ren-Tan then gave them their first game point at 21-22; which was squandered by a cross-court drop that flicked the net cord but fell back into their own court.
A Rankireddy smash at the net gave the Indians their fourth game point at 23-22 and they took it this time with some aggressive play at the net; Tan hitting it back into the net.
They took the match 21-19, 24-22.
Semifinal: beat Malaysia's YS Ong and EY Teo 21-19, 17-21, 21-17
Quarterfinal: beat Denmark's Bay and Molhede 15-21, 21-11, 21-14
Round of 16: beat Chinese Taipei's FJ Lee and FC Lee 12-21, 21-17, 28-26
Round of 32: beat Malaysia's Boon and Wong 21-15, 21-18