MEN’S DOUBLES PROFILE: Satwiksairaj RANKIREDDY and Chirag SHETTY (IND)
Ages: 22 (Rankireddy), 25 (Shetty)
Partners since: 2016
Career-high ranking: 7th (August 30, 2022)
Current ranking: 8th
Named after wrestling’s menacing tag teams, India’s top pair in the men’s doubles are living to the “Brothers of Destruction” tag, with their powerful smashes matched their intimidating presence to strike fear into their foes on the court.
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty were a talented pair in more ways than one. Apart from their skills, they are also shown their passion for badminton at the highest level, with their exuberant celebrations in full display over the years.
Together, they have put up the work over the years not just to improve their individual skills that they were highly touted for in their youth, but also honing their chemistry that defies the boundaries of their hometowns.
The younger Rankireddy came from the Telugu-speaking Andhra Pradesh, with the older Shetty is from Mumbai, hence they were hesitant at the beginning to be paired up owing to their language barrier.
However, it was the foresight of their Malaysian mentor Tan Kim Her that persuaded them to get them on board, and since then they were practically inseparable coming from their days at the fabled Pullela Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad.
Rankireddy and Shetty won their maiden BWF title in Mauritius in June 2016, and won eight more titles in both the World Tour and the then-International Challenge series. In 2018, they won their first major medals when they clinched the team gold and the men’s doubles at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.
The pair had produced consistent results despite the departure (and eventual return) of Tan and the arrival of doubles’ legend Mathias Boe, 2022 became their landmark year, as well as Indian badminton in general.
After winning their first Indian Open title after beating the Indonesian Daddies of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan in a two-game sweep, the Brothers stormed through the field for India, winning all but one of their ties to claim their maiden Thomas Cup in Bangkok.
The highlight of which came in their final against a much-fancied Indonesian side, when they were made to work by the hybrid Daddy-Minion pairing of Ahsan and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, coming from a game down to win in the decider and claim the second rubber, on their way to their country’s 3-0 sweep to claim a historic feat in Indian Badminton.
Of course, you could not forget Shetty’s stare in forcing the decider, and eventually celebrating shirtless ala-Sourav Ganguly at Lord’s when they took the match point.
Soon afterwards, they claim their first Commonwealth title in Birmingham after sweeping England’s home pair of Ben Lane and Sean Vendy, and made further history in Tokyo with their first World Championship podium finish, falling to the eventual winners Chia and Soh in the semifinal to settle for a bronze.
Not bad for a tandem that started their careers just inside the top 700 of the world’s best men’s doubles.