Satwik-Chirag join Saina in Indonesia Masters semis


Jakarta, Jan 26  India's young men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty continued their impressive show, while veteran Saina Nehwal got the better of compatriot P.V. Sindhu to enter the semi-finals of the $350,000 Indonesia Masters World Tour Super 500 here on Friday.

Satwik-Chirag edged past Danish fourth seeds Mads Conrad-Petersen and Mads Pieler Kolding 23-21, 15-21, 21-19 in an hour and six minutes.

Saina, the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, moved past 2016 Olympic runner-up and second seed Sindhu 21-13, 21-19 in 37 minutes in a quarter-final.

The singles match was between the two most popular faces of Indian badminton. The contest between the Pullela Gopichand Academy products was expected to be a top match but 23-year-old Sindhu flattered to deceive. Saina, 22, was too hot to handle for Sindhu.

Saina was quick to get off the blocks, holding a 3-0 lead before making it 9-5. Sindhu did some hard work to go into the mid-game break trailing by two points.

After the break, Saina upped the ante and kept dictating the pace of the game to reel off consecutive birdies to sit on a 15-9 lead. Afterwards, it was easy for Saina to pocket the first game.

In the second game, Sindhu came out strongly. The three-time World Championship medallist rode ona five consecutive points to have a 10-5 lead. But Saina didn't take long fight her way back, equalising at the 10-point mark before trailing by a point at the mid-game break.

Saina brought all her experience into play as she wriggled out of a difficult situation to lead 15-14. From here, there was no looking back for her, winning the second game 21-19.

"I m happy to b on the winning side against Sindhu today," Saina wrote on Twitter.

With this win, 27-year-old Saina has taken a 2-1 lead in head-to-head records against her Hyderabadi rival.

In the semi-finals on Saturday, Saina will face Thai fourth seed Ratchanok Intanon, who defeated reigning world champion and Japanese sixth seed Nozomi Okuhara 21-17, 21-10.

The other semi-final will see China's He Bingjiao face Taiwanese world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying.

Bingjiao upset Spanish two-time world champion and reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin 21-19, 12-21, 21-16, while Tai defeated South Korean Sung Ji-hyun 21-11, 21-8 in just 29 minutes.

In the doubles match, unseeded Satwik-Chirag didn't care about the reputation of Petersen-Kolding. They played aggressive badminton to take the first game 23-21. A strong start enabled them to lead for the better part of the first game. The Danish pair worked hard to make the match out of it after the 15-point mark.

But the experienced Danish pair took the match to the third game by winning the second game 21-15. A 12-2 lead for Petersen-Kolding meant that the writing was on the wall.

The third game saw no pair got headway till the 12-point mark. Afterwards, Petersen-Kolding broke away, holding a 16-12 advantage.

But the Indians showed a lot of courage in clawing their way back by snatching four points on the trot. Another see-saw battle followed before Satwik-Chirag clinched it 21-19.

In the semi-finals, the Indian pair will meet the Indonesian top seeds Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo.