INDIA’s ace doubles shuttler, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, is confident he and his partner Chirag Shetty have enough in the tank to fire during the Paris Olympics later this year.
Satwik, who regained the world no 1 doubles ranking following back-toback runners-up finishes in the Malaysia Open and the India Open, indicated the pair will have a different strategy during the quadrennial showpiece event.
“We don’t want to peak right now; we’re keeping our best game for the Olympics. We have a lot more left in our tank, and we are coming up with different gameplay and plans before the Olympics,” Satwik said.
The duo will play some events before the Olympics, including the All England where they have been seeded no 1. However, Satwik said he is not getting carried away by the topseed tag at the All England.
“We have a lot of tournaments coming up before the Olympics, including the All England, which is very special for all our team members, where we want to do well. But, in the back of the mind, we are thinking about the Olympics,” he said.
“I just got to know about it (top seeding, last Friday, 2). It feels special. But all these numbers are just there for happiness, and don’t matter on the given day, as we can lose to anyone. So, we are not thinking much about our seeding. We have never really done well in All England. So, this time, we want to go as deep as possible and hit the podium.”
Despite being the world no 1 pair, Satwik and Chirag have failed to clinch the title at the Malaysia Open and the India Open.
The duo lost the India Open final last month to the Korean pair of Kang Min-hyuk and Seo Seung-jae, while they went down to Liang Weikeng and Wang Chang of China in the Malaysia Open title showdown.
Satwik said the losses had not dampened their spirits, but made them more hungry for success in Paris. He added, “Sometimes, losing is better. If we keep winning, we tend to get relaxed. So, we need to keep that fire burning within us. The loss during the India Open helped us to keep boosting the fire within us.
“Also, we are trying to bring in new ideas. So, it will be quite challenging before the Olympics.”
One of the more noticeable changes in Satwik’s game has been that he has started playing more on the front court. The change, he says, has been brought about by his Danish coach Mathias Boe.
“People nowadays don’t expect me to play on the front court, and all of the credit goes to my coach Mathias Boe. We have been working on it for a long time, and it’s been amazing playing on the front court, since I never really used to play on it… so really happy about it,” he said.
Satwik said he has been inspired a lot of athletes, including Olympic gold-medallist javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra. “Neeraj bhaiya has been extremely friendly; we met him during the Asian Games. Outside India, I admire Roger Federer and his calmness. And obviously, Mahendra Singh Dhoni also for his calmness,” he said.