The bandana-wielding Chirag Shetty threw away his shirt while Satwiksairaj Rankireddy kissed the court and wheeled away in celebration. You’re probably used to seeing this routine when Sat-Chi win a big match, but this one was special: it was their first Super 750 title.
Satwik and Chirag bagged their second BWF title of 2022 as they beat the Chinese Taipei duo of Lu Ching Yao and Yang Po Han 21-13, 21-19 to lift the French Open crown on Sunday.
The French Open title is Satwik and Chirag’s biggest W – their earlier BWF title of the year was the India Open 500.
Sat-Chi also became the first-ever Indian doubles pair to win a BWF Super 750 tournament.
This is the duo’s fifth major title of the year: the World Championships bronze, the Thomas Cup gold, Commonwealth Games gold, India Open and now the French Open.
They are the first Indian team to win the French Open title in 39 years – Partho Ganguly and Vikram Singh had won the French Open [called the French International then] in 1983, but it was not a BWF Tour level event.
Lu and Yang, playing their first BWF Tour final in nearly four years, got off to a jittery start while the Indians ran amok. Chirag began the proceedings with a thunderous body smash and Satwik followed suit as the Indians went ahead 7-1 in no time.
Chirag was sharp at the net and offered no breathing room, while Satwik prowled the backline and put away any shuttle that was within his range. The Chinese Taipei duo struggled to find a rhythm as they went into the interval trailing 5-11.
Coach Mathias Boe told Satwik and Chirag something to the tune of “don’t lose focus if they begin to play better” and that was just what happened: the Chinese Taipei duo began to ease into the game.
They were better than they were before the interval, but they were still no match for their opponents. Chirag very literally backhand slapped the shuttle to open up a 16-8 lead as Lu and Yang battled to contain the Indians’ all-out aggressive approach.
There was little they could do as Chirag and Satwik pocketed the opening game 21-13 in 19 minutes.
Yang, the shorter among the two, took matters into his hands in the second game as he drew parity at 3-3 with a monstrous smash. Satwik returned the favour a couple of points later with a deceitfully disguised half-smash as the teams traded the lead.
Satwik and Chirag had an 11-5 advantage at the break but then took their foot off the gas. In came the Chinese Taipei with a roaring comeback that was riddled with a barrage of smashes.
Both Yang and Lu broke their strings along the way as they drew level at 14-all and then went on to seize the lead at 18-17. It was the first time they were ahead since they had a 1-0 lead at the start of the second game.
Each of Yang’s smashes was accompanied by a roar, which somehow made his strokes stronger with each passing point.
However, a favourable net cord and an unforced error saw the Indians level the game at 19-19 and then wrap up the win two points later.
This victory reinforces the notion that Sat-Chi belong at the highest level. They’ve clinched five big titles in 2022 and this is their second BWF title, which points at their steady progression and innate ability to perform in clutch situations.
Their exploits at the French Open this year -where they took advantage of a tumultuous draw and scalped a big win over the world no.1 team of Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi of Japan in the quarterfinal – very well indicate that they are the present and future of men’s doubles.
This French Open triumph – the biggest win of their careers – is yet another step in their steady climb to the top.