Tokyo: India’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty on Friday created history by becoming the first Indian pair to reach the semifinals of the men’s doubles event at the BWF World Championships, thus ensuring a medal, here.
Chirag and Satwiksairaj beat reigning world champions and second seeds Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi 24-22, 15-21, 21-14 in a three-game thriller in the BWF World Championships 2022 quarterfinals.
Of India’s 12 medals at the world championships, only one has come in the doubles when Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa won women’s doubles bronze in the 2011 edition.
Chirag-Satwik, the Commonwealth Games champions, will now take on sixth-seeded Malaysian duo Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik in the semifinals next.
“We’re so happy and excited. We want to finish this on a big note. It’s a revenge match for us tomorrow, we’ve never beaten them (Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yik). We just want to go there and enjoy the pressure. It’s going to be a big match,” Rankireddy told the BWF website.
However, the other Indian pair M.R Arjun and Dhruv Kapila, who became the first Indian men’s doubles pair to make the quarterfinals at the World Championships, bowed out after losing 8-21, 14-21 to third-seeded Indonesian veterans Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan.
Later, in the men’s singles, H.S Prannoy also fell short of assuring himself a first medal as he lost 19-21, 21-6, 21-18 to China’s Zhao Jun Peng.
Prannoy, who had beaten former World Champion Kento Momota and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Lakshya Sen in the preceding rounds, fought hard to take the first game and after losing a slew of points in the second, he decided to conserve his energy for the crucial decider.
In the third game, both players were evenly matched until 11-11 but the Indian shuttler committed a few unforced errors to allow Jun Peng to win seven of the next nine points and take an 18-13 lead.
The 30-year-old Prannoy fought back with some sublime smashes and point construction to get the gap down to 19-17 and later at 20-18. But Zhao Jun Peng held his nerves and hit a cross-court smash to put Indian on the wrong foot and finished it off with an easy winner.
“He started to play better from the second game and in the first half of the third game he was able to move swiftly, better than me, and catch the shuttle high,” said Prannoy.
“It’s a good tournament for me. I would’ve loved to be on the podium, but that’s how it is. Some days you need to work a bit harder,” he added.