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Why Satwik-Chirag's Indonesian Open win is the biggest in Indian Badminton

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty beat the world number one and the reigning world champions on their way to the Indonesian Open Badminton title

Satwiksairaj, Chirag

Satwiksairaj Rankiredy and Chirag Shetty of India with their Indonesia Open title. Photo: Twitter

Abhishek Singh New Delhi

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Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy etched their name in history after winning the Indonesian Open 2023. They became the first Indian badminton players (singles or doubles) to hold all the five Superseries titles (Super 1000- Indonesia Open, Super 750- French Open, Super 500- Thailand Open, Super 300- Syed Modi international and Swiss Open, as well as several Super 100 tournaments). 

This was the biggest win of their career as they also became the first Indians to win a Super 1000 tournament ever since the Badminton World Federation (BWF) constitued the BWF World Tour in 2018 and divided its competitions into various levels with only three Super 1000 events in a year. The events with Super 1000 status are Indonesia Open, China Open and All-England Open. From 2023 onwards, Malaysia Open has also been upgraded to Super 1000. 

The rise since the 2020 Olympics

Satwik and Chirag, also known as Sat-Chi, paired up together for the first time in 2016 against their wishes. Tan Kim Her, the South Korean who coached the Men’s Doubles for India, paired them together. 

They did not win big initially. They tasted success for the first time 2018 after winning silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. They won their first Super 300, Super 500 and Super 750 tournaments in 2018 and 2019. 

However, the game-changing event for the Indian pair was the Tokyo Olympics 2020. They beat a higher-ranked Chinese Taipei pair and almost entered the quarter-finals, but it wasn’t to be. From there on the Indian pair did not look back. 

Winning the Thomas Cup 2022

India won the Thomas Cup 2022 and Sat-Chi played the most important role. They beat higher-ranked opponents in the quarterfinal against Malaysia, semi-final against Denmark and final against Indonesia. This was the first-ever Thomas Cup win for India in the history. 

Gold at the Commonwealth Games

Carrying the Thomas Cup confidence, Satwik and Chirag headed to the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and became the first Indian pair to win Commonwealth Gold in Badminton Doubles.

Bronze in World Badminton Championships

The Indian pair was chasing history one after another as they carried forward the winning momentum and form from Commonwealth Games to the World Championships held in August 2022 in Tokyo, Japan. Seeded seventh after their success at India Open, Thomas Cup and CWG, the Indian pair reached the quarterfinals as per expectations. 

It was their feat in the quarterfinal that stunned all as they beat the second seed Japanese pair of Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi. They lost in three sets to the eventual champions-Malaysia’s Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik in the semi-final to finish with a bronze medal, the first ever for India in Men’s Doubles. 

History at the Badminton Asia Championship

After the World Championship Bronze, Satwik and Chirag won gold at the French Open in October-November to claim their and India’s first-ever Super 750 Doubles crown. The last time India won gold at Badminton Asia Championship was way back in 1965 when Dinesh Khanna clinched the Men’s Singles title. Even after having greats like Prakash Padukone, Pullela Gopichand, Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Kidamabi Srikanth, it was the pair of Rankireddy and Shetty that got India its second gold medal in this event.

Sat-Chi defeated the third-seed Indonesian pair of Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan in the quarterfinal. In the semi-final, they got through the unseeded Chinese Tipaei pairing of Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin to face the eighth-seeded Malaysian pair of Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi. It took gruelling three sets for the Indian pair to be crowned Asia’s champions. 

Beating World Champions and World Number one in one tournament

Having taken the Swiss Masters title this year, the Indian pairing looked got overconfident and complacent. Their coach Mathias Boae also agreed to this and said that they needed a newfound hunger to overcome the hot-headedness after the Badminton Asia Championship success. 

In the final of the Indonesia Open, the Indian boys beat Malaysia's Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik, against whom they had lost in all their previous eight meetings, including in the semi-final of the last year’s World Badminton Championships. On their way to the final, they beat the world number one seed as well as the world number one Indonesian pair of Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto. 

At just 23 and 25 years of age respectively, the pairing of Satwik and Chirag have a lot to conquer and etch their names in the history books. The immediate target for them would be the World Championships in August.

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First Published: Jun 19 2023 | 6:55 PM IST

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