Chirag Shetty believes that combining with R. Satwiksairaj is one of the defining moments of his career.
“Yes, in fact, for both of us, it has been a decisive phase. Initially, I was sceptical for sure. But, when we look back now, it certainly was a very, very good decision,” Chirag said in an exclusive chat with Sportstar after the duo completed a historic men’s doubles title triumph in the recent Indonesia Open badminton championship.
“Definitely, unlike in the past, there are no definite roles like that he should take care of defence or I should attack or vice versa. We are now adept in adapting to a given situation, and our responses in a crisis have been effective,” Chirag said of his partnership.
“Satwik is a very calm and composed guy, ensuring the pressure doesn’t build up. We complement each other pretty well with a clear strategy going into a match,” he said.
“I believe we need to work a lot more on defence though we are a lot more steadier than we were a few years ago,” Chirag said. “Honestly, learning is a never-ending process as they say. We can never be perfect,” he added.
Looking back at the Indonesia Open doubles title, the 26-year-old Chirag said winning any title – be it in the Super 500 or Super 1000 – would always be a big thing. “I don’t think the difference in standard is too big. And, we still have to give our best to win any title,” he said.
“Yes, beating Malaysia’s Aaron Chia and Wooi Yik Soh convincingly in the final, to whom we lost eight times before, was something special. We just put behind the earlier disappointments, and it was quite challenging and eventually very satisfying to win the contest,” Chirag said.
“Our tactics were different for each match depending on the style of the opponents. For instance, the Chinese played fast, which we had to slow down. The World No. 1 pair of Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto in the quarterfinal was trying to keep the shuttle low like us and didn’t want to lift it. So, for each match, the coach (Mathias Boe) was ready with a different kind of strategy,” Chirag said.
Chirag and Satwik are now ranked World No.3, and the former believed it would be a great boost as they prepare for bigger challenges.
“At the start of the year, we were No.5. Though the ranking shows a difference of only two numbers, there is a huge gap in terms of points logged,” he said.
“Our target is to become the World No.1, and we can achieve that if we continue to play as well as we did in the Indonesia Open,” Chirag said.
“Our ultimate target is to win a medal in the 2024 Paris Olympics once we seal our place. But, our immediate targets are the World Championship and the Asian Games,” he said.
On the pressure of expectations, Chirag said it had been there since 2019 when they broke into the top 10 but said he would look at this positively.
“I feel this also means more and more people are interested in knowing about you, and it is good for Indian badminton too,” he said. “I also feel that we perform better if there is a little bit of pressure too or else we might become passive,” he concluded.
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