Know your stars – Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy
Ever since Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy joined hands, they have been on a roll. Most notably, the duo is the only Indian pair to have been ranked in the Top 10 of BWF Charts in Men’s doubles. The two have been unstoppable and rightly rewarded for their efforts.
Currently, the 13th ranked Indian pair have won a grand prize money of $55,588.35 in their career so far. Theirs is a story of pure master class. The two are going strong, and considering the fact that they both are very young, they have a bright future ahead. Shetty and Rankireddy have ensured that the Men’s doubles category is in safe hands.
Rankireddy was born in Amalapuram, a town situated in Andhra Pradesh. Badminton was in his blood as his father had been a state-level player in the past. His elder brother was also a player. The 19-year-old joined the Pullela Gopichand Academy in 2014. The youngster strived to become a doubles specialist.
On the other hand, the Mumbai-born Chirag also started playing at the early age of 7 at Goregaon Sports Club. He played under Manish Hadkar, and his career took flight. 22-year-old Chirag played both Singles and Doubles till the U-19 level. As he was performing better in doubles and also had an affinity for it, he started focusing solely on doubles.
Coach Tan Kim Her suggested that the duo should start playing together.
It was not a cakewalk initially as both Chirag and Satwiksairaj enjoyed attacking from the back of the court. Despite being good friends off the court, they both were skeptical of the combination at first.
However, Chirag later adjusted his style of play and adapted his game to attack from the front, near the net. Soon this started working very well, and both got accustomed to playing together.
Both the players have an attacking temperament and alertness on the court. What works for them is that they both wanted to become doubles players and had an inclination towards the format.
Beating the Best of the Best:
The Indian pair is known for defeating the heavyweights in World Badminton. Their maturity in handling pressure situations is well beyond their years.
They surpassed expectations early on in their careers and have set a benchmark for themselves now.
In 2018, the fantastic duo were the runners-up at the Syed Modi International Super 300 tournament and grabbed gold at the Super 100 Hyderabad Open. However, the highlight of the year was when they won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games. Besides this, they also bagged the Gold medal in the Mixed Team event at the blockbuster event in Gold Coast. They even went on to reach the semifinals of the prestigious French Open Super 750.
Earlier in 2019, the Indian duo won their maiden Super 500 Tournament, The Thailand Open. They defeated 3rd seed Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen of China in a tightly contested match to bag the top prize. This proved to be a historic victory as they were the first Indian men’s doubles pair to win a title of such stature. The win enabled them to enter the Top 10.
Later in 2019, Chirag and Satwiksairaj also reached the finals of the French Open Super 750. Their performance was notable, and they beat then World No. 6 Hiroyuki Endo and Yuta Watanabe of Japan as well as World No. 2 Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan of Indonesia en route to the final.
The pair fought bravely in the final as well but went down to top seed Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo to finish runners-up. Despite the loss, there were more positives to take from the event than negatives.
The Olympic Dream:
Many would believe that Chirag and Satwiksairaj have a realistic chance of bagging a medal at the Olympics. While it may seem like a far-fetched dream, recent results only go in their favour. Nothing is a dream for the formidable duo, and they are tirelessly working to make it a reality.
The pair deserves every bit of the limelight they are getting. The rate at which the pair is progressing is astounding. With a breakthrough 2019, the Men’s doubles pair has set a benchmark for themselves. They are the talk of the town. If they continue producing consistent results as they have been, a podium finish at the Olympics will not be as far-fetched as it seems.
The fierce Chirag and Satwiksairaj are currently training under former Olympic Bronze medallist, Flandy Limpele. The two are full of praise for their Indonesian coach and have adapted well to his techniques. The focus is on Tokyo 2020 now, and the duo is relentlessly training for the same.
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