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Badminton

Anxiety before Olympics: Satwik-Chirag may lose World No. 1 ranking

Going down in the rankings could have drastic consequences for Satwik and Chirag; they may miss the chance of entering the Olympics as a seeded pair.

Anxiety before Olympics: Satwik-Chirag may lose World No. 1 ranking
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Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty in action during a BWF World Tour event. (Photo credit: Badminton Photo/BWF)

By

Sudipta Biswas

Updated: 4 Jun 2024 11:33 AM GMT

The World No. 1 men's doubles pairing of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have skipped the 2024 Indonesia Open, a title they won last year, this week.

It remains unclear why they have withdrawn from the year's third Super 1000 event, where the winners will bag thousands of points.

But it is speculated that one of the two players has picked up an injury during their shock first-round exit at last week's Singapore Open, forcing them to pull out from their title defence.

At the Singapore Open, last week, Satwik-Chirag, the top-seeded pair, in an unexpected result, lost in straight games to World No. 34 Daniel Lundgaard and Mads Vestergaard of Denmark in the Round of 32.

Owing to their absence from the prestigious Indonesia Open, the odds are now stacked against Satwik and Chirag, who will chase Olympics glory in Paris in July-August.

The Indian duo has scripted many notable chapters in Indian badminton since winning the Thomas Cup in 2022, delivering unprecedented results for the country.

They won the Asian Games gold, India's first-ever yellow metal in badminton in the history of the continental showpiece. They also won three titles in 2023, including two in a row at the Indonesia Open and the Korea Open.

This year, Satwik and Chirag have already won two titles - the French Open Super 750 and the Thailand Open 500. And they have registered two runner-up finishes as well. No other Indian shuttlers came close to their achievements.

Given their impressive performance on the World Tour and Asian circuit, Satwik and Chirag have been considered favourites for the Olympic gold in Paris.

But the upset defeat in the Singapore Open followed by a withdrawal from the Indonesia Open has now cast a shadow of doubt on their Paris 2024 aspirations.

Satwik and Chirag will lose a handful of points for not playing in the Jakarta event. Also, it could force their fall from the top of the world rankings.

On slippery slope

The Indonesia Open is set to crown a new men’s doubles champion and that pair will undoubtedly be ranked lower than the Indians. The World No. 2 Laing Wei Keng and Wang Chang are best placed to win the title. The Chinese pair had already toppled the Indians once after the Asian Games last year in October.

At the Istora Gelora Bung Karno, they will look to regain their World No. 1 ranking. The Chinese duo now have 96,318 points, and if they win the men's doubles title or finish runners-up, they will rise to the top with either 101718 or 99918 points.

And it is not just Liang-Wang that are on the ascendency, there are others that are set to climb up the ranking with a good outing at Jakarta.

One of the most improved pairings of recent times is Kim Astrup and Anders Rasmussen. They are the World No. 4 with 94, 553 points, and if they were to win the Indonesia Open this week, they would rise in the rankings.

Similarly, South Korea's Kang Min Hyuk and Seo Seung Jae will also look to make the best use of the opportunity and improve their numerical figure in the absence of Satwik and Chirag.

Also, if the former world champions Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik - now ranked 5th - win the tournament, Satwik and Chirag will experience a steep fall in the world rankings, slipping to a possible World No. 5.

What is in a rank?

Losses and tournament withdrawals on a highly competitive World Tour are not uncommon. That it is coming before the Olympics, however, is a cause of concern for the Indian badminton fraternity.

Going down in the rankings would mean that Satwik and Chirag could miss the chance of entering the Olympics as a seeded pair. It will make their campaign tougher from the very onset of the tournament.

In Tokyo in 2021, Satwik and Chirag delivered two enchanting wins in Group A. But a straight-game defeat against Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo resulted in their group stage exit.

The Indian duo will be cognizant of that debacle and will do well to avoid an encore.

Satwik and Chirag remain India’s best hope for an Olympic medal in badminton this time around. That said, their form and rank could prove to be pivotal in the larger context.

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