Thursday, 13 Jun 2024

News | BWF World Championships

News | BWF World Championships

Once Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty completed their post-match rituals following their Thailand Open semifinal win, they returned to their hotel room. Rankireddy was overwhelmed, shedding tears of joy for what they had just accomplished.

This victory held great significance for the Indian duo as they had defeated 2014 world champions Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol, whom Rankireddy had always admired. Little did they know that this triumph would be a prelude to an even more remarkable feat. The following day, they created history by upsetting world champions Li Jun Hui and Liu Yu Chen in a thrilling match that ended 21-19, 18-21, 21-18. This victory made them the first-ever Indian pair to win a title of this level.

Reflecting on their semifinal win, Rankireddy said, “I was crying in the room, I didn’t imagine I could beat them. When I was young, I used to watch them on TV, I wanted to play like Ko Sung Hyun, hit like Ko Sung Hyun. And in the third game today, I was thinking, oh I’m playing the final, I’m beating the world champions, play free, no pressure.”

The Indian team has had competent doubles players in the past, but none with the firepower of Rankireddy. His powerful shots from the back of the court combined with Shetty’s strong play have enabled the duo to make rapid progress. It is worth noting that their style of play is not one-dimensional, as they have also showcased sound all-round skills.

Tham Khảo Thêm:  BWF News

Last year, their semifinal appearance at the French Open and their final appearance at the Syed Modi Championships indicated that they were on the cusp of a breakthrough. However, Rankireddy suffered a sternum fracture in January, which kept him out of action for four months. During this period, the Indian team underwent coaching changes with the departure of Malaysian coach Tan Kim Her and the arrival of Indonesian coach Flandi Limpele.

The current level of their play demonstrates the influence of both coaches. Tan’s tactical acumen and Limpele’s emphasis on fitness have transformed close matches against top pairs into victories. Shetty explained, “With Flandi, the emphasis is on the physical aspects. The drills are a lot tougher. Over the last three-four years, we’d been doing a lot of skill-based training, but this time we’re focusing on the physical aspects.”

Rankireddy, who has a naturally strong build, also attributes their improved performance to better fitness routines. He said, “We can feel we’re stronger on court. We’re fresh even if we’re playing three games. So even in the third game, we feel like it’s the first game. Like I was feeling fully fit after the second game today, I felt I could hit a thousand smashes as well.”

After Rankireddy’s return from injury in May, the duo gradually gained momentum and started notching up significant wins. Even their defeats to Li/Liu in Australia and Kamura/Sonoda in Japan were closely contested matches. They now realize that they have the necessary skills to compete against the world’s best pairs.

Tham Khảo Thêm:  News | BWF World Tour

Shetty boldly stated, “We have one of the best attacks in the world,” a claim that no Indian men’s doubles player before him could have made with such confidence. Traditionally, Indian doubles players have been known for their craft rather than power. However, Shetty believes that they are almost on par with the top pairs and are steadily reaching the pinnacle of their game. For them, the key now lies in winning those crucial two or three points that can make all the difference.

The Indians’ recent victory in Thailand has opened up exciting possibilities for the upcoming TOTAL BWF World Championships. While pairs like the Minions, defending champions Li/Liu, and Kamura/Sonoda remain the favorites, Rankireddy and Shetty have proven that they can be formidable opponents for anyone on their day.

Rankireddy expressed his confidence, saying, “After playing at this level, we’re pretty confident that we can pull off some matches at the World Championships. We’re confident in every stroke. Earlier, we used to struggle on defense and were uncertain about playing certain shots. But now, we don’t have any such fears. So whether it’s me at the front or him at the back, it’s proper doubles now.”

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Conclusion

Unfortunately, Rankireddy and Shetty have withdrawn from the World Championships due to injuries. Nonetheless, their recent achievements have showcased their potential and established them as a force to be reckoned with in the world of badminton. The Indian pair’s remarkable journey and dedication serve as an inspiration to aspiring badminton players worldwide.

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References:
Carnegiecentre