Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty, BWF Super 500 tournament, Badminton, Li Jun Hui, Liu Yu Chen, India, China, unseeded, Commonwealth Games, english news website, The Federal
After a fascinating win at the French Open, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (right) and Chirag Shetty have their work cut out in the upcoming Paris Olympics. File photo

Celebrating 'SatChi': Pioneers of doubles revolution in Indian badminton

Their journey to badminton stardom is marked by perseverance and determination. Their pairing shows how sportsmen with differing personalities click as a team.

The superhit jodi of Indian badminton, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, have emerged as a formidable force in badminton doubles. Their terrific partnership and remarkable feats have propelled them to the forefront of the sport in recent years and justly earned them acclaim as the greatest doubles pair in Indian badminton.

In winning the French Open on Sunday (March 10), without dropping a set, the Reddy-Shetty pair tamed their Taiwanese opponents Lee Jhe-Huei and Yang Po-Hsuan 21-11, 21-17 in the final. Their victory in just 37 minutes not only clinched them their second French Open title but also broke a string of three successive runner-up finishes in their last three tournaments.

Shifting focus from singles to doubles

The super success of ‘SatChi’, as they are popularly called by fans and friends, is rewriting the narrative of Indian badminton on the global stage. For decades, India’s shuttle story was predominantly focused on singles events, with players like Prakash Padukone and Pulella Gopichand on the men’s side and Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu on the women’s side capturing the nation's imagination with their stellar shows.

In contrast, doubles disciplines were largely overlooked. SatChi's ascent to the top of world badminton has shattered this singles dominance narrative. Their success has brought doubles play into the spotlight and challenges the notion that Indian players can excel only in singles.

Stellar qualities

Satwik-Chirag's journey to badminton stardom is marked by perseverance and unwavering determination. Hailing from humble backgrounds, their partnership has blossomed over the past seven years and showcases exceptional synergy and complementary playing styles on the court. But their pairing reflects how sportsmen with vastly differing personalities can click as a team.

Shetty from Mumbai is an aggressive extrovert who loves to sample international cuisine. Reddy from Andhra Pradesh likes to be cool and calm and has a penchant for Indian food even abroad. Far from causing any dissonance, these contrasting traits give them a special charm as a top draw in men’s badminton.

Multiple title wins

The pair's list of achievements is nothing short of spectacular and cements their status as trailblazers in Indian badminton. They have won multiple titles on the international circuit, including historic victories at prestigious tournaments such as the Thailand Open, Super 500 events and the BWF World Tour Finals.

A defining moment came at the 2019 Thailand Open where they scripted history by becoming the first Indian men's doubles pair to win a BWF Super 500 title. This victory showcased their exceptional talent and served as a testament to their resilience in the face of formidable competition.

Impact of Mathias Boe

Their success story continued to unfold on the global stage, with impressive performances at the BWF World Championships and Olympic Games. A prime reason for SatChi's consistent presence among the world's top-ranked doubles pairs in recent years is the entry of Mathias Boe, the doubles coach who is an Olympic medallist in men's doubles.

Boe has played a key role in keeping them fit and focussed and has infused a much-needed discipline into their routine. His professionalism has rubbed off on the two who now take better care of their bodies, ensure adequate rest and plan their schedule far more meticulously, keeping in mind the top goals they wish to pursue.

Breakthrough year

No wonder, with coach Boe shepherding them, 2023 became the big breakthrough year for SatChi. After winning several major titles, in October 2023, Satwik and Chirag became the first Indian men's doubles pair to grab the number one spot in the Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings. They registered this historic milestone after their gold medal triumph at the Asian Games.

By getting the coveted top ranking in BWF rankings, SatChi joined legendary players like Prakash Padukone, Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth who are the only three Indians who have reached the top spot in BWF rankings, but all in singles. SatChi’s remarkable journey has given a new dimension to India's status in world badminton.

Eyeing All England success

Having bulldozed their way to become the French Open champions without dropping a game, SatChi are now keen to target All England success this week. Entering as Top Seeds in a tournament which holds a special place for Indian badminton, SatChi seek to end a 23-year wait for an Indian victory at the Mecca of world badminton. The world No. 1 pair has fond memories of Birmingham where the All England will be played. It’s the city that saw them become the first Indian men’s pair to clinch the Commonwealth Games gold in 2022.

Though they have a difficult draw and face a tough opening match against Indonesian giants Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan, having won their first title of the year, SatChi are on a high – and it will need very special efforts to upset them.

Olympic dream

With Indian fans egging them on, the Reddy-Shetty pair hopes to add to India's paltry success at the All England where Prakash Padukone (1980) and Pullela Gopichand (2001) have been the only Indian champions. Over the past decade, Saina Nehwal (2015) and Lakshya Sen (2022) both lost in the finals. Given their red-hot form, SatChi have a fine chance to end the 23-year title wait for India.

While a triumph at the All England is their immediate goal, its glory at the Olympics that’s the biggest driving force for the Reddy-Shetty pair in 2024. Their French Open win at a venue that will host badminton in the Olympics has reconfirmed Pullela Gopichand’s prediction that the SatChi duo will be favourites to grab the gold in the coming Olympics.

With their newfound fame, the duo has their work cut out in the 2024 Paris Olympics – where the field will feature the world’s best in Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, Malaysian and Japanese pairs. With all of India keenly following their progress, SatChi will be giving it their best shot to get India their first-ever medal in men’s badminton at the Olympics.
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