The Indian badminton men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty went down 19-21, 21-18, 19-21 in a trilling final against home favourites Liang Wei Keng and Wang Chang at the 2023 China Masters Super 750.
Having won a total of six finals in as many appearances this season so far, the Indians saved six match points on Sunday but eventually surrendered in a 71-minute long battle against the world No. 1 pair.
Rankireddy and Shetty, who had suffered a shock first-roound exit at the Japan Masters last week, started off on the backfoot at the Shenzhen Bay Gymnasium in the final. A service fault as early as the second point of the match from Shetty set the tone as the Chinese pair raced to an 8-3 lead in the opening game.
The top seeded Indians did manage to equalise at 9-9 but found themselves 9-11 down at the first mid-game break. An intense passage of play ensued post the interval as the Rankireddy and Shetty took the lead for the first time since the first point of the match at 16-15.
However, Wei Keng and Chang bounced back to pocket the first game 21-19 even as Rankireddy and Shetty combined for a defensive masterclass in the later stages.
Much like the opening game, the Chinese shuttlers raced to an early lead in the second game before the Indians, who trailed 5-9, edged ahead at 11-10 at the mid-game break..
Rankireddy and Shetty then opened up a 16-12 before winning the second game 21-18 to force a decider even as their opponents fought back, drawing multiple errors from them.
Wei Keng and Chang once again raced to a massive 8-1 lead in the decider. There was no recovering from that horror passage of play for the Indians as they trailed 10-19 with the title on the line.
Rankireddy and Shetty, the former world No. 1 pair, then stitched four points in a row before Wei Keng and Chang raced seven match points.
The Indians displayed a tremendous fight back by saving six match points, but it was too little too late as the Chinese shuttlers wrapped up the game 21-19.