Kuala Lumpur, Jan 14: India's Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty faltered at the finishing line to end their dream run at the Malaysia Open Super 1000 with a narrow loss in the men's doubles final against world No. 1 Chinese Liang Wei keng and Wang Chang here on Sunday.
Satwik and Chirag, the Asian Games gold medallists, squandered an opening game advantage and an 11-7 lead in the decider to go down 21-9 18-21 17-21 to Liang and Wang in the summit clash which saw both the pairs displaying some exquisite strokeplay.
"We are happy with how we played in the tournament but a little disappointed that we couldn't control our nerves.
"We played under lot more pressure than them towards the end and made silly mistake but they kept pressing us. Hopefully, we will take revenge next time," Satwik said after the match.
"I was expecting it to be tough after the change of ends. We thought we should keep 4-5 lead and it would be nice going into the last stretch. Things were a bit here and there and then they were 12-12. Same situation happened in Malaysia Open and All England last year."
Chirag Shetty laments not remaining calm under pressure:
It was a fourth defeat for the Indian pair against Liang and Wang, having lost three of their last four meetings -- all in 2023. The only time Satwik and Chirag had emerged victories was during their title-winning run at Korea Open Super 500 last year.
"Coach (Mathias Boe) said that we should keep the racquet up and move our foot. We knew they would come back, we should have been calmer and they played exceedingly well," Chirag said.
In fast playing conditions, the Indians dominated the proceedings early on, cruising to a 5-1 lead with the help of some angled returns and accurate placements.
Satwik and Chirag looked in complete control while their opponents were a bit nervy as they played short and pacy rallies comprising just 5-8 flat and fast shots. The Indians had a seven-point advantage at the break when the Chinese went to the net.
The targeted returns of the Indians often left the Chinese cramped as they patrolled the front court. Soon the Indians were 18-9 up and grabbed the opening game after Liang went wide and long.
Liang Wei keng puts the final nail in the coffin:
It was time for the Chinese pair to run up a 8-2 lead after the change of ends as the Indians repeatedly missed their mark. Satwik also committed a service error as the Chinese duo was 9-5 up and when Chirag mistimed a return-to-serve, it was a 11-6 advantage for Liang and Wang.
Satwik seemed to falter a bit in the end as he conceded a few points on the flat pushes. On one such occasion, when Satwik went wide during a flat exchange, the Chinese moved into a 14-13 lead for the first time.
Liang, who had looked a bit subdued till now, also found his groove just in time as the Chinese moved to 19-16. A disguised cross court drop shot gave four championship points to the Chinese. The Indians saved one before the Chinese shut the doors on their hopes.
Satwik and Chirag will next compete at the India Open Super 750 tournament starting in New Delhi on Tuesday.