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"We aim to maintain a top-8 spot so that we get a favorable draw at the Olympics" - Ace Indian doubles shuttler Chirag Shetty

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (L) and Chirag Shetty with the 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medal
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (L) and Chirag Shetty with the 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medal
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Modified 29 Mar 2021
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With the swift rise of the young pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, Indian badminton has begun to look formidable in men's doubles.

The chemistry that the two have displayed on the court and their determination to improve has been next to none.

In a country where the sport excels mostly in the singles discipline, Rankireddy and Shetty have shown that doubles medals aren't out of reach for India.

A silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 followed by a history-making Thailand Open title win in 2019 prove that they are real champions in the making.

Under the tutelage of new national doubles coach Mathias Boe, a London Olympic silver medallist himself, Chirag and Satwik aim to reach the sky.

They have a realistic chance of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics and are presently at No. 8 in the Race to Tokyo rankings.

With a top-eight finish needed for automatic qualification, Chirag and Satwik are leaving no stone unturned in their preparations.

Chirag Shetty (L) and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy after winning the 2019 Thailand Open title
Chirag Shetty (L) and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy after winning the 2019 Thailand Open title

In an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, one-half of the World No. 10 men's doubles pair, Chirag Shetty, spoke about their goals, Olympic dreams, working under Mathias Boe and lots more.

Here are the excerpts:

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Q: How is Mathias Boe as the national coach? How has the experience of training been under him?

A: I think it's a lot different from the earlier coaches we have had. The approach is very different. When we get on to the court, there is a lot more thought process while playing a specific stroke. So it's good to have a different kind of voice. It takes time to get used to it but eventually since the Olympics is our target, we still have a lot of time to get used to it.

Q: Having somebody, who has won an Olympic medal and is bringing that experience with him, is definitely an added advantage. What do you think?

A: Definitely. Since he has played at the highest level, won so many Superseries tournaments and also got medals at the World Championships and the Olympics, he comes in with a lot of experience. We'll definitely get to learn a lot from him.

Q: You have personally worked with Mathias Boe before, having been a part of the Pune 7 Aces team in the PBL. How is that Boe different from the one who is the national coach now?

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A: Yes, of course, it is different now. Earlier it was just me working with him. I have been playing with him for the longest time now. Not just during the PBL, whenever he used to come to Mumbai, I used to play with him. So I have known him for 5-6 years. I had earlier known him as a player but now he is a full-time coach. He is a tough taskmaster. He demands 100% on the court, you can't be 50% with the amount of effort you put in.

Yeah, so the situation has changed now. Earlier it was just me training, now I am getting to do some other drills as well with Satwik. It's more partner-specific now.

Q: You guys had a training stint in Zurich in between the Swiss Open and the All England Open. What did you mainly work on during that stint?

A: We were trying to correct a few things. We mainly focused on bringing a few changes to our game, which Boe said we should maintain, especially in our defensive part of the game. We were not defending that well at the Swiss Open. We did much better at the All England Open even though we lost in the pre-quarters. It's still a learning process, we are still in the process of getting used to what he wants us to do. Eventually it will definitely help us going forward.

Chirag Shetty (L) and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy in action
Chirag Shetty (L) and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy in action
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Q: You guys suffered back-to-back losses to Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen at the Swiss Open and the All England Open, even though the last match was very close. What mistakes do you think you have been making against the Danish pair?

A: This time we were a lot steadier while attacking and even while defending than at the Swiss Open. Actually at the Swiss Open, I had pulled my hamstring, so I was not 100%. I couldn't really push that much on shots. We worked a lot in Zurich and we were able to play a decent game at the All England Open. Although it may not be our best, we did a lot better than at the Swiss Open.

We need to work a lot more in certain areas like we need to calm our nerves at crucial stages. Like I said, it's still a learning process and we've got to learn a lot from that loss.

Q: You have made the semis in two events in 2021. How satisfied are you with the results and which are the areas you still need to focus on more to improve?

A: When we enter a tournament, we always look to win the title. Although reaching the semi-finals is a good result, we definitely want to win a title. We also want to peak at the right time.

Even after the losses, it's important to understand what we need to work on and take the positives from the losses.

Q: How much of a motivation factor is qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics?

A: The main focus right now is to finish in the top-eight. Currently we are No. 9 in the Race to Tokyo but one of the Indonesian pairs will come out of the race as they are the third pair from that country. So we are effectively eighth at the moment. We need to maintain that. No. 7, No. 8 and No. 9 are all very close to each other in terms of points, so whoever plays well in the next three tournaments, will finish in the top-eight. That is the main goal right now - to maintain the top-eight spot so that we can get a favorable draw at the Olympics.

Published 29 Mar 2021, 14:47 IST
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