Ecstatic after winning a maiden World Championships medal, India’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy on Friday said the season has been a “dream" for him and his doubles partner Chirag Shetty and the two would look to finish the tournament on a “big" note in Tokyo.
The world number 7 pair has been simply sensational this year, claiming a super 500 India Open title in January before fashioning India’s epic win in Thomas Cup and then winning a maiden Commonwealth Games gold earlier this month.
“It has been a dream for us, starting with the India Open, the Thomas Cup and then the Commonwealth Games gold. As I speak, I am feeling so happy and excited," Satwik said after assuring the pair of at least a bronze here.
Satwik and Chirag on Friday became the first Indian pair to win a medal in the men’s doubles competition at the World Championships after stunning the local favourites and defending champions Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi 24-22, 15-21, 21-14 in the quarterfinals.
“It is a big win for us. We haven’t played them in a long time. They are the current world champions and we badly wanted to play against them but we are always up against the top seeds Kevin (Sukamuljo) and (Marcus) Gideon in tournaments," Satwik said.
“We were excited as we wanted to see our level against them and I’m very happy with the way we played. We took a revenge on our former coach, Tan Kim Her, so I am happy for that,” he added.
Tan Kim Her from Malaysian was instrumental in forming the Indian pair during his stint as India’s doubles coach. He is currently coaching the Japanese doubles team. The Indian combination will meet sixth seeded Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik in the semifinals. Satwik and Chirag had lost to the Malaysian duo during the finals of mixed team event at CWG in Birmingham.
“Here we want to finish it on a big note, not just finish in semifinals but go further. Tomorrow, it will be a revenge match," Satwik said.
Asked where does the medal rank amid their achievements, Chirag said: “We haven’t finished the tournament and we want to go all the way but Thomas Cup is up there at the top. If we win it here, it will be at par with the Thomas Cup."
Talking about the quarterfinal match, Satwik said: “In the first game, we got a lead but they got the rhythm back and after that it was just one point each. From deep inside, we were calm.
“I saw Chirag was calm and I was telling him ’shout shout’ but I sensed it that we are under control, he knows that we are going to win, so no need to panic and let him control everything."
Chirag said they were rewarded for being more proactive in the match.
“We controlled the shuttle a lot better in third game. In the second game, we knew we were on a good side but we were a bit complacent. But in the first game, we were proactive in our approach, so we started off that way in the third game, taking the shuttle as high as possible and keeping it down, instead of getting into those drive situations with them.”
Crestfallen after losing in the men’s singles quarterfinals, HS Prannoy said he needs to be a notch better to win big titles.
“It is a good tournament but would have loved to be in the podium. But some days you have to work harder. I have been decent last few months with few quarterfinals and semifinals. But if I have to win tournaments, I have to be one notch better than what I am right now," he said.
Prannoy had struck the first blow by winning the opening game but he squandered the opportunity as unseeded Chinese Zhao Jun Peng emerged victories 19-21, 21-6, 21-18 in a thrilling contest.
“I guess the third game start was crucial. In first 11, I had to have a good lead but it became way to close for him to play freely from the better side. I could have played better from the start. He started to play better from second game and third game he moved quickly and got the shuttle high."