India’s top doubles pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have been nominated for the Badminton World Federation’s Most Improved Player of the Year award for the 2018 season.

Satwik and Chirag are currently ranked 18th in the world, after starting the year in 31st place. They are the only Indians nominated in BWF’s annual Player of the Year awards, which will be presented on December 10 in Guangzhou, as a curtain raiser to the inaugural BWF World Tour Finals. There are six award categories in total.

The BWF Most Improved Player of the Year award recognises outstanding advances in performance across all players and pairs and is selected at the discretion of the governing body’s Awards Commission, according to a release.

Also nominated for this award are:

  • Seo Seong Jae (Men’s Doubles & Mixed Doubles, Korea)
  • Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara (Women’s Doubles, Japan)
  • He Jiting (Men’s Doubles & Mixed Doubles, China)
  • Anthony Sinisuka Ginting (Men’s Singles, Indonesia)

Satwik and Chirag reached three finals this year, winning the Hyderabad Open Super 100 and losing in the Syed Modi International and Commonwealth Games. They also reached their first semi-final at the Super 750 level, at the French Open.

In comparison, last year, they had reached only one final – at the Vietnam International Challenge, which they won. They also reached two quarter-finals at the Superseries level in 2017, becoming the first Indian men’s doubles pair to do so.

Indonesia’s all-conquering men’s doubles team of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo are aiming for back-to-back crowns in the Male Player of the Year category. Standing in their way would be world champion Kento Momota, who won seven out of the nine finals he contested in this season.

Japan’s women’s doubles pair Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota capped off a breakthrough season last year, claiming the Most Improved Player of the Year award. This year they could go one better, nominated for Female Player of the Year, alongside Tai Tzu Ying and Huang Yaqiong.