Olympics Begin In
Begin typing your search above and press return to search.


With French Open title heist, 'incredible' Satwik-Chirag becomes frontrunner for Paris Olympics gold

Clinching their second French Open men's doubles title in three finals since 2019, Satwik and Chirag have emerged as the frontrunners for the 2024 Paris Olympics badminton gold.

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty Badminton

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty with their identical celebration. (Source: BAI)


Sudipta Biswas

Updated: 11 March 2024 9:08 AM GMT

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty are speed demons; the world must note this ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics.

They came, saw and conquered the French Open Super 750 men's doubles title in just 37 minutes in the final on Sunday to see off their rivals from Chinese Taipei. In fact, such was the supremacy of the duo on their rivals that none of Satwik and Chirag's matches lasted more than 47 minutes this week at Paris' Adidas Arena. They won all their matches in straight games.

Lightning-fast movement and quick exchange of shuttles followed in no time from the hands and legs of Satwik-Chirag, the world no.1, as they clinched the title without dropping a game, after losing three World Tour finals.

With the pairing becoming the first-ever Indian shuttlers, across all disciplines, to achieve the mark of 100,000 points in the BWF World Rankings following their French Open title heist, we might have seen what the Indian fans would hope to see in August at the Adidas Arena, the venue for the badminton event of the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Satwik and Chirag finally broke their BWF World Tour title jinx and won their first title of the year. They had been without a World Tour title since July last year when they won the Korea Open Super 500. But more importantly, they were beaten in three consecutive finals on the World Tour since China Masters in November.

Chinese Taipei's Lee Jhe-Huei and Yang Po-Hsuan, playing Satwik-Chirag for the first time since 2021, lost in straight games 21-11, 21-17. Though unseeded and never played in the semifinal beyond Super 300 before, Lee and Yang were no strangers to pulling off upsets.

They are the winner of last week's German Open Super 300. And at the French Open, they carried on their fine form by sending off two former world no. 1 pairings Liang Wei Keng and Wang Chang, and Muhammad Rian Ardianto-Fajar Alfian. In the semifinal, they beat Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi, a pair ranked ten places above them in the world rankings, rallying back from 13-19 in the second game to cruise into the final with a straight-game win.

Thus, just like Satwik and Chirag, the Chinese Taipei pair was also in fiery form. Their magnificent control over the net and ability to earn points with smashes from the back and front court by Yang and Lee were no less frightening.

But Satwik and Chirag know how to clinch titles. Appearing as the epitome of attack, impeccable defence and booming smashes, Satwik and Chirag played like nimble-footed dancers on the Parisian court as they marched off to claim their seventh World Tour title.

Although the Indian duo trailed from the get-go, they would break away to a 9-4 lead in the first game with four straight points and eventually claim a six-point lead at the interval.

After the interval, with Chirag and Satwik adding rapid pace to their game, Yang and Lee were forced to play long even when they played reflexed returns, some of them were brilliant but painfully went long, helping the Indian pair claim the opening game 21-11 in mere 15 minutes.

In the second game, when Lee and Yang played with renewed vigour and showed intent to force the decider and led 11-9 at the interval, Satwik and Chirag would soon draw level and the game would run close till 14-14.

At this juncture, Satwik's magnificent game awareness would see the Indians swiftly rise to a 19-16 lead. As they gaited, Lee and Yang looked panicked and went long in reflection, throwing away soft points to the Indians.

Though Lee and Yang managed to save the first match point, Chirag was left with a sea of space to play his identical mighty smash on the second match point opportunity. Lee could not negotiate the killing stroke and sent it wide. The Indian pair wrapped up the second game in 22 minutes.

The moment would see the Indians breaking into their traditional celebration with Satwik lifting Chirag as he pointed his finger towards the sky. It was as if the sky was the limit for them. As music blared at the hall, Satwik shook his legs and his racquet to the tune of it to enthral the buzzing crowd.

Chirag left the arena pumping his fist in the air, promising to return to the hallowed coliseum of Paris for bigger glory in the next few months.

With this French Open title win, their second in three finals since 2019, they have certainly emerged as the frontrunners for the 2024 Paris Olympic gold.

The commentators do not doubt it, as they would pronounce after the final, "Satwik and Chirag are the frontrunners for the Olympics gold."

Meanwhile, Satwik and Chirag's India teammate, HS Prannoy stated, "What Chirag and Satwik are doing for Indian Badminton is something more than Incredible. French Open Champions 2024."

"Hopefully, more recognition to the sport and both of them for people to realise how big a win this is for Indian Sports," he added.

'Paris our second home'

For Satwik and Chirag to break their title hoodoo at the Olympic venue was "really sweet", and they called Paris their second home. "Paris has always been special for us and we have always played good badminton here and it has been a second home for us. It is a test venue for Olympics but that is still some months away,” Chirag told the Badminton Association of India (BAI) Media after the match.

Ahead of the All England Open, a tournament they vowed to win ahead of the season-opening Malaysia Open, Satwik and Chirag will only soar in confidence, as they look to maintain their domination at the top.

Next Story