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China Masters 2023: Satwik-Chirag pair reaches semifinals; Prannoy loses in quarterfinals

India’s HS Prannoy made unforced errors galore to make an exit but Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty stormed into the men’s doubles semifinal at the China Masters Super 750 badminton tournament here on Friday.

Top seeds Satwik and Chirag dished out an attacking game to outwit world no. 13 Leo Rolly Carnando and Daniel Marthin of Indonesia 21-16 21-14 in 46 minutes.

However, world no. 8 Prannoy had a bad day in office as he struggled to curb his errors and went down 9-21 14-21 against Japan’s world championships silver medallist Kodai Naraoka in a lop-sided quarterfinal contest later in the day.

Satwik and Chirag, who won the Indonesia Super 1000, Korea Super 500 and Swiss Super 300 this year, will face Chinese pair He Ji Ting and Ren Xiang Yu next.

The former world number one Indian duo showed coordination. They interchanged their positions frequently and also altered the direction of their stinging attack which made life difficult for their Indonesian rivals, who wilted under pressure.

The match started on an even keel with both the pairs fighting tooth and nail. But the Indian combination soon started dominating the proceedings with an onslaught of attacking shots to break off at 14-14.

Chirag made some right judgements and they were 19-16 up soon and then the Mumbaikar displayed his attacking intent once again, coming to the front court after serving to quickly close out the issue with a quick return.

The Indians kept up the tempo to surge to a 5-2 lead early in the second game. A few taps went to the net from but they ensured a two-point lead at 7-5 with Satwik unleashing a stiff return.

A flurry of smashes took the Indians to a healthy 11-6 advantage at the interval.

The Indonesians couldn’t match the attack of their rivals, who were relentless from the first point. The Indians quickly moved to 17-10. The longest rally of the match ensued next with Marthin producing a precise smash to end the 48-shot rally.

A lucky net chord put the Indians three points away and Marthin next went to the net as they grabbed seven match points.

Satwik and Chirag squandered one before winning a video referral to seal their last four place.

A mistake-filled evening for Prannoy

Prannoy had a forgettable start. He struggled with his length in the opening game, triggering a slew of unforced errors, which put paid to his hopes.

The 31-year-old, however, seemed to have got back his bearing in the second game. In a much better effort, the Indian started matching his rival and played some good shots to put rival in awkward position but his net play was not polished.

In a battle for survival, Prannoy kept himself afloat though he conceded a slim one-point lead to Naraoka at the mid-game interval.

There was also a bit of drama when at 9-8, the chair umpire ruled a decision against Naraoka, saying his racquet was over the net when he went for a close net shot but the Japanese protested, leading to a brief halt in play.

After resumption, Prannoy starting putting pressure on his rival’s forehand corner before sending a cross and it helped him to gather a few points.

Naraoka, however, established a 15-12 lead with Prannoy falling into a pool of errors as his jump smash went into the net, return went long and then he faltered in his net dribbles.

The downfall was fast as another shot sprayed into the net by Prannoy took the Japanese to 19-13. A lucky net chord gave Naraoka six match points, and he sealed it when Prannoy smashed wide.

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