Badminton

Satwik-Chirag Profile: Know All About India’s Reigning World Number 1 Badminton Doubles Pair

Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna awardees Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty are peerless when it comes to achievements in Indian doubles badminton. How did the duo rise to the top? We trace their life and career journeys in this profile

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Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (L) and Chirag Shetty are the current World Number 1 pair in men's doubles badminton. Photo: File
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In a relatively short period, the all-conquering badminton men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty has racked up achievements rivalled by few Indian teams in the sport. The crowning glory of their laurels is the world number 1 billing they currently possess, as well as the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award they received from the Indian government, earlier this year. (More Badminton News)

Who are these two players and how did they rise to the top? Let’s trace their life and career journeys over the years.

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, born on 13th August 2000, comes from a town called Amalapuram in the state of Andhra Pradesh. He was inspired to take up badminton by his father, who himself was a state-level player. In the year 2014, Satwik joined the Pullela Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad with a focus on doubles in badminton. He later broke the Guinness World Record for the fastest hit by a male player with a speed of 565 km/h during a smash.

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This surpassed the previous record of 493 km/h held by Malaysian player Tan Boon Heong since May 2013. Under controlled conditions, Satwik's record-breaking smash was achieved at the Yonex Factory Gymnasium in Soka, Saitama, Japan. The Guinness World Records officials verified the speed measurement results, cementing the historic accomplishment.

Chirag Shetty was born on July 4, 1997, in Malad, Mumbai to Chandrashekhar and Sujata Shetty, in a Tulu family. Chirag's father works in the hotel industry. Initially, Chirag trained at Uday Pawar Badminton Academy located in Goregaon Sports Club. However, he later moved to Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad. In the beginning, Chirag played alongside Arjun M. R. as his doubles partner, but later, coach Tan Kim Her paired him with Satwiksairaj Rankireddy. The coach believed that two tall and skillful players could join forces to form a strong and unbeatable pair.

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Satwik and Chirag played a pivotal role in earning India a historic gold medal in the mixed team event at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, where they also secured the silver medal in the men's doubles category. They clinched their first BWF World Tour title at the Hyderabad Open by defeating the Indonesian duo of Akbar Bintang Cahyono and Muhammad Reza Pahlevi Isfahani in the final.

In the year 2019, the duo made history by becoming the first Indian doubles pair to win a BWF Super Series or BWF World Tour (Super 500+) title. They achieved this feat by winning the Thailand Open, where they defeated the Chinese pair of Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen in the final. Moreover, they finished as runners-up at the 2019 French Open, where they lost in the final to the Indonesian duo of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo.

In July 2021, the pair participated in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, but unfortunately, they were unable to make it past the group stage. They suffered a loss to Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo. Despite this setback, they were the only pair in the competition to beat the eventual gold medalists, Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin. They narrowly defeated the Taiwanese duo in their first group-stage encounter.

In December 2021, Rankireddy and Shetty qualified for the BWF World Tour Finals for the first time in their careers. Unfortunately, they exited the tournament after losing their first group-stage match to the Danish pair of Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen.

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In 2022, the doubles combine started the year by winning the India Open. They were also part of India's Thomas Cup-winning team. In the final, having lost the first game to the Indonesian duo of Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Mohammad Ahsan, they displayed immense perseverance and tenacity to win the second game and close out the third game at 21–19, giving India a 2–0 lead over Indonesia. This was pivotal in helping India bag its maiden Thomas Cup trophy.

Satwik and Chirag then won the men's doubles gold at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, beating the home pair of Ben Lane and Sean Vendy in the final. At the BWF World Championships, they bagged a bronze medal, India's first-ever men's doubles medal at the tournament. They beat defending champions Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi in the quarterfinals but lost in the semi-finals to eventual champions Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik.

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They then won their first-ever BWF World Super 750 title in the French Open by beating Chinese Taipei pair Lu Ching-yao and Yang Po-han in the finals.

In 2023, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty achieved multiple major victories. They won their first title at the Swiss Open, defeating the Chinese duo of Ren Xiangyu and Tan Qiang in the final. The pair also became Asian Champions, after winning the Badminton Asia Championships held in Dubai.

Additionally, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty won their first BWF World Super 1000 title by beating Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik in the final of the Indonesia Open, thus becoming the first-ever men's doubles pair from India to win the event. They defeated the Indonesian duo of Muhammad Rian Ardianto and Fajar Alfian to win the Korea Open as well.

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In 2024, the dynamic duo reached the finals of two BWF World Tour events but unfortunately finished as the runners-up in both tournaments, the India Open Super 750 and Malaysia Open Super 1000. The brothers of destruction will soon be participating in the French Open Super 750 event, which is scheduled to start on March 5.

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