Promising pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty created history becoming the first Indian pair to win the continental crown as the KhiladiX.com Dubai 2023 Badminton Asia Championships concluded at the Al Nasr Club here on Sunday.
In a thrilling men’s doubles final, the sixth seeded pair of Rankireddy and Shetty came back from a game down to defeat Malaysians Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi 16-21, 21-17, 21-19.
One game down, the young Indian pair, the Commonwealth Games champions, came out with impressive service to surprise the Malaysians as they levelled points 14-all after being down 8-13 in the second game. Once they started winning points, they grew in confidence and held their nerves to pull off the winning points.
“I think today we didn’t play, the crowd played with us. It was a bad start in the first and half of second game, but we didn’t give up. We kept our nerves; we know how to play these situations. So, we were waiting for the good rhythm and then take our chances. We were calmer in the second game and third game,” said Rankireddy thanking the amazing crowd.
“It felt like playing in Hyderabad. I am very happy how we played today in front of these amazing crowd.”
He added saying that “it will take a lot of time to believe that we are the Asian champions”.
Before Rankireddy-Shetty’s amazing show, crowd favourites Indonesia’s Anthony Sinisuka Ginting and Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying put up a dominant show to clinch the men’s and women’s singles crowns infront of a roaring crowd.
Ginting took only 14 minutes to win the first game 21-12, mesmerizing his fans with his powerful smashes that left his opponent Loh Kean Yew, the 2021 world champion, clueless at times.
The Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist from Indonesia eventually won 21-12, 21-8 in 28 minutes.
Third title for Tzu Ying
Meanwhile, Tzu Ying continued her good run in Dubai to win her third Asian crown in style. The world no. 3 came out with her deceptive drops to stretch the rising star from Korea An Se Young to the limit. Tzu Ying eventually won 21-10, 21-14 in a 32-minute women’s singles final.
“I haven’t played the Asian Championships for some time now. And I wasn’t planning initially to play, but when I learnt it was happening in Dubai, I planned to come. I have good memories in Dubai. And I am happy to continue it. It was a good overall event; I played up to my expectations,” said Tzu Ying looking ahead to the year.
Earlier, Japanese women's doubles pair of Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota defeated Koreans Baek Ha Na and Lee So Hee in straight games 21-7, 21-14 for their first title in three years.
Meanwhile, Chinese top seeds Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong's amazing run that included All England mixed doubles title was ended by their younger compatriots Jiang Zhen Bang and Wei Ya Xin who shocked the defending champions in straight games 21-15, 21-16.
Congratulating the winners, UAE Badminton Federation President Noura Aljasmi said: “This has been an amazing championship with so many great matches and players to watch. We are very proud to be hosting this prestigious meet and happy to see the crowd support for all these players. We thank all our sponsors, especially Sobha Realty, and partners for their continuous support, the fans for coming to watch these great matches. This week has been a great learning opportunity for UAE players as well.
“The journey has just begun for us, and we have a long way to go.”
Francis Alfred, Managing Director of Sobha Realty, stated: “It has truly been an honour for us to sponsor the 2023 Badminton Asia Championships, which featured some of the best matches in an enthralling competition between various eminent badminton talents. We take this opportunity to congratulate all the winners on their exceptional efforts and impressive victories. Establishing an athletic culture in the UAE is crucial if we wish to see continued success for athletes, as well as increased corporate sponsorship for sports and upcoming competitions. We also recognise the private sector's role in fostering a sports culture and encouraging community members to adopt it as a way of life. As a result, we reiterate our commitment to promoting sports in the country, and positioning the UAE as a centre for an active lifestyle.”