The pair had strong opinions on the role of corporates as sponsors for doubles players in India.

The Indian men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have become people’s favourites following their recent stint at the India Open. The duo won the tournament convincingly and became the first Indian pair to win a Super 500 tournament.

Both of them have played with each other for over seven years now. They have been the most successful pair from India since then. Their recent title would have surely turned the attention of the viewers to doubles category in the sport where they only used to follow singles’ players.

In an exclusive conversation with Khel Now, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty told us about how they have been so successful and what makes their combo strive. They also expressed their views on the doubles category scenario in India and has there been any improvement following their arrival.

Formation of their pair and teaming up with each other

Both Satwiksairaj and Chirag are equally attacking and defensive and find each other equally reliable too. However, it wasn’t since the beginning when they had paired up with each other.

“Initially we used to compete against each other in the junior circuit. And we both had different partners. Both of our partners were shorter in height than the two of us. Soon after the then doubles coach Tan Kim Her saw both of us playing together and we were both attacking players. So, he felt that both of us should be paired and as they say rest is history,” Chirag Shetty began.

Best quality about each other

Doubles category in badminton, apart from playing and coordination, require faith and trust between both the partners. Satwiksairaj and Chirag revealed the best quality about each other which they like the most.

“He ( Satwiksairaj Rankireddy) is extremely caring and that is the one thing which I really like about him,” Chirag Shetty remarked.

Satwik on the other hand agreed with what Chirag Shetty said and found him equally concerned. “Obviously caring is one thing and apart from that, he texts me whenever I am at my home to know what I am doing. Also, he has a lot of knowledge, he knows a lot about many things,” he revealed.

What makes their combination tick

There are often some qualities which make a doubles pair lethal. Be it aggression, defence or stroke play, that quality acts as an integral part of a pair’s game. Satwiksairaj and Chirag also revealed on what makes their combination certain in the games.

“Obviously, a common goal, both of us want to win more and more tournaments. Also, we look to attack more and more because we are offensive players.” Chirag Shetty quipped.

“Another thing is that whenever either of us isn’t able to play well, one is always there to motivate the other, which we don’t see very often in other pairs,” he added.

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy had a similar view to his partner and believed that it was very important to share a good bond for them. “I think in doubles, it’s very important to trust each other. We both share a good bond with each other. Winning is of course good for both but supporting each other at the time of a loss is more important.”

“We find people often complaining what went wrong in the matches we lost. So, that is the time both of us have to trust each other rather than being egoistic, because then it’s not a bond anymore,” he continued.

Current scenario of the discipline in India

Whenever badminton has gained limelight in India, it has only been because of singles players such as PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Prakash Padukone and Pullela Gopichand, who brought glory to the nation. However, that hasn’t been so with the doubles categories. While the country manages to give credit to only singles players, the doubles players have struggled to make their presence felt.

Expressing his views on this situation, Chirag Shetty felt that it has seen slight improvement as compared to before. “I think it has raised as compared to the past. Earlier, the doubles category was below par as compared to singles. But now it has gained some importance in terms of funding from the government, support from BAI and media,” he opined.

However, he also felt that the support isn’t good enough from the sponsors. Something which surely needs a change. “The support from corporates is still not there. When you see doubles players from other countries, their apparel has no space for new sponsors. But if we compare it with India then it is not the same with the doubles category. The support from corporates has always lacked, so it’s a long way to go,” he added.

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, on the other hand, once again had similar views to his partner as he felt that changes have been gradual. “The support in terms of sponsors hasn’t been good. They just run behind the winners. For example, earlier it was Prakash sir (Prakash Padukone) and Gopi sir (Pullela Gopichand) and now it is Sindhu, Saina, Sai Praneeth or Srikanth. There is hardly any emphasis laid on doubles players.”

The latter also recalled by saying, “Manu and Sumeeth qualified for 2016 Olympics and then we followed and behind us, there are several players who are coming, like Dhruv and Arjun. Now we are getting separate coaches but earlier we didn’t. So, it’s changing, one would come and the others would follow.”

Success as a team and making the doubles category gain the much needed limelight

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy also spoke about his success with Chirag Shetty and how it has led to people also following doubles instead of singles.

“When we paired with each other, we played several tournaments and performed really well in them. For example, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and other team events. So earlier, the people just wanted to know the score lines and results of singles but now they find interest in doubles too,” he expressed.

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