Hyderabad, Feb 9: India's star shuttler Chirag Shetty believes the country still has a long way to go in the doubles category as they need to have at least three pairs participating in the category in the superseries to become a powerhouse.
Currently, Chirag and his partner Satwiksairaj Renkireddy are the only doubles players who are present in the top-10 rankings; and Chirag - who plays for Pune 7Aces in the Premier Badminton League (PBL) - believes the Indian shuttlers are taking the right steps in that direction.
The 22-year-old paired up with Indonesian Hendra Setiawan in the men's doubles category for the Pune-based franchise and played some interesting matches with the four-time world champion shuttler.
Here are the excerpts from the interaction with Chirag Shetty after his last game in the PBL as Pune 7Aces bowed out from the tournament after going down to Bengaluru Raptors in the second semi-final.
MyKhel: How has been the experience so far for you in this season of PBL?
Chirag Shetty: I think its been a great season and playing alongside world champion Hendra Setiawan has been a really good learning curve for me because he comes in with a lot of experience. He's played almost 15 years of badminton at the highest level. There's a lot to learn from him especially his net game because I play at the net as well. So I am trying to imbibe as many things from him.
MK: Do the international players help you guys and share their here in PBL because you often compete against them at the highest level?
CS: Usually, on-court we do (share) like what to avoid and what not and if you ask them they are more than ready to help you. For example, I met Matthias (Boe) some five to six years ago and he's told me every possible thing. Back then he was World No. 2 and I was still a budding player as I competed in the U-19 level. But he kept helping me on ways to improve. There wasn't anything he'd not tell me just because we were competitors.
MK: How difficult it is for you to adjust with other players.
CS: Usually, we practice together and there's only one-dimensional kind of training that we do. When we are not together, we get to play a different style which helps us better the other aspects which I can imbibe in my game. Along with Hendra, I am getting to play at lot at the back whereas, with Satwik, I mostly play a lot more at the nets. In a way that will help me say if Satwik isn't having a good day with his backward shots, then maybe I can take the responsibility. So I think partnering Hendra has helped me think out of the box.
MK: Does playing against Satwik helps you figure out each others game?
CS: In a way yes. While practising we play against each other as well by pairing with other players as well. So we know each other's game inside out. But as you said, while we play against each other we tend to point out mistakes in each other's game.
MK: What are your plans after PBL?
CS: As of now, we are going to play in the Badminton Asia Championships in Manila and from there, our focus will shift towards All England Championships in March. But about Manila, we are still not clear due to the Coronavirus outbreak as you know the women's team has already pulled out. So we are waiting for the Badminton Association of India's approval. The BAI is checking with the health department in this matter.
MK: What is your assessment about your game when you compare it with the top shuttlers in the world when you are playing crunch games?
CS: I think when we played and won the finals in Thailand Open and French Open we both kept our calm. We just played it safe even in the crucial moments and even if you make a silly mistake during the game, you just have to forget about it and focus on the next move to not give away a couple of more easy points to the opponents. I think that is what helped us play well in those tournaments. So we are going to work a lot on this aspect so that we can gain more experience and play well during pressure situations in the other tournaments as well.
MK: How has been the progress of doubles badminton in India and what more needs to be done so that India becomes a force to reckon with?
CS: See, whichever country has been doing well in the doubles category like, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia all of them have at least three pairs playing in the superseries events and all their three players in the top 20. For Indonesia and Japan, their top-three pairs are in the top 10 rankings. So I think we have just started doing well and there is a long way to go. I and Satwik are in the top-10 and if we have another two pairs in the top ten then we'll have a better chance of leading.