CHENNAI: It started with Saina Nehwal challenging the Chinese domination in women’s singles and continued with the rise of PV Sindhu. Kidambi Srikanth then took the flag and planted it firmly at the top of the men’s division. Now, India’s badminton revolution appears to have ventured into the doubles section as well.
On Sunday, the young pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty outwitted Chinese world champions Li Jun Hui and Liu Yu Chen 21-19, 18-21, 21-18 in Thailand Open final. This was the first time an Indian badminton pair had triumphed in a BWF Super 500 tournament and the win moved them into the top 10 in world rankings.
But the significance of their victory reaches far beyond statistics. For years, doubles languished in the shadows as the pauper cousin. On days when there wasn’t a singles achievement to laud, the question thrown around was ‘why aren’t we doing well in doubles?’.
Now, we have a pair capable of taking on the best in the world and, on their day, beating them. And they’ve arrived with eleven months left for the Olympics!
“I’m still in shock. There’s too much going on. It’s unbelievable,” said Satwik. Chirag was more collected. “I hope this win inspires more people and changes their outlook on doubles,” he said.
From being World No 684 to top 10 in just three-and-a-half years. If they can keep up the pace, it might only be a matter of time before they enjoy the view from the top. Maybe Tokyo 2020 is a target too early but Chirag and Satwik — 22 and 19 respectively — have time by their side.