Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy created history in Tokyo on Friday as they became the first Indian pair to secure a medal in the men’s doubles competition at the BWF World Championships but they insisted they desire to go further than just the semifinals.
After having won the Commonwealth Games gold medal in Birmingham earlier this month, Chirag and Satwik defeated the home favourites and defending champions Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi 24-22, 15-21, 21-14 in an hour and 15 minutes.
The victory secured India’s second World Championships medal in the doubles event, with Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa claiming a bronze back in 2011 in the women’s doubles. Overall, it’s India’s 13th medal at the worlds, with PV Sindhu winning five, including a gold in 2019, and Saina Nehwal (silver and bronze) claiming two. Kidambi Srikanth (silver), Lakshya Sen (bronze), B Sai Praneeth (bronze) and Prakash Padukone (bronze) are the other medallists.
Chirag and Satwik, seeded seventh, will now face Malaysian sixth seeds Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik in the semifinals on Saturday. The Indians have not defeated Chia/Soh in five previous meetings, a pair that has proved to be a nemesis to them,
Here are excerpts from Chirag and Satwik’s media interaction after their quarterfinal win (via BWF Mixed Zone / media team):
Satwik: We don’t want to stop here, want to go further. This is what we were aiming for before the Commonwealth Games, we set our minds to do well at the world championships too. Wanted to keep our bodies fit and do well. There was one thing left for us to do and we wanted to do well at the world championships. Today, we were in the zone. Even when we were down, we kept telling ourselves that ‘it’s our game, not their game’. We kept our calm and coach Matias Boe kept telling us how to control the pressure situations. Playing in the CWG final and dealing with that pressure helped us here. So happy with the performance and want to take revenge tomorrow [Chia/Soh defeated Satwik/Chirag in team event final at CWG] We’re happy but we’re not finished yet, we want to go all-in tomorrow.
Chirag: Thomas Cup was also the biggest moment of our careers but yes, individually, this is right up there. But as Satwik said, it’s still not done yet. We want to go as deep in the tournament as possible. I think we have it in us. If we play anywhere close to our best, I think we can beat anybody. So yes, we’ll go all-in tomorrow. I was quite excited for this match, I would say. Although I slept quite early, there was excitement in my body and I wanted to get up and play. But even as I kept waking up, I had a very good sleep surprisingly.
Satwik: I woke up thrice last night – at 5, 6 and 7 am (laughs). It was so exciting, I just wanted to go out and play.
Chirag: I thought we got a bit carried away in the second game today and were just catching up till the end. In the third game, we started off calmly and instead of getting into flat drive situations, we were keeping it as much as possible so that we could get that lift in the end.
Satwik: It’s been a dream year for us. Starting with the India Open, then the Thomas Cup, and now the CWG and world championships. Just saying this makes me so happy and excited. We want to finish this on a big note and keep going further. Don’t want to think too much about tomorrow’s match, will just go out there and enjoy.
Satwik: We hadn’t played against Hoki-Kobayashi in a long time. They are the current world champions and we badly wanted to do play them. But we always ended up playing against Kevin and Gideon [in the draws]. So when I saw the draw, I was very excited and wanted to see how Hoki-Kobayashi are playing and see our level too. And it was good to take revenge against our former coach Tan Kim Her as well (laughs).