After clinching an all important silver medal at their Commonwealth Games debut, the young pair of Satwiksairaj and Chirag Shetty now eye gold in Thomas Cup 2018. A week after becoming the first Indian men’s doubles pair to win a silver at a Commonwealth Games, 17-year-old Satwik is now busy preparing for his 12th standard board exams while his partner Chirag is attending all the felicitation programs.
Satwik will join the camp in next 10 days, while Chirag, will start his training from Wednesday with the pair aiming another good performance at the Thomas Cup to be held from May 20 to 27 in Bangkok(Thailand).
“I am preparing for 12th exams and I will join the camp in 10 days for our preparation for Thomas Cup. We have a great chance to win the team event as we have three strong singles and two doubles,” Satwik told PTI as reported by Times of India.
Chirag Shetty, who has returned to his hometown Mumbai, said: “I think we have a great chance of winning a medal. Our top three singles players are in top 20 and then we have Sameer Verma and in doubles also apart from us, there is Manu (Attri) and Sumeeth (Reddy), so if we can pull off one doubles, we can win.
“Srikanth, Prannoy and Sai Praneeth have already proven themselves and we are also confident that we can beat the best players from China, Japan and Indonesia,” he added.
Satwik and Chirag first helped India win the mixed team events gold medal and then clinched the silver medal in men’s doubles, an event where India has not enjoyed a great history.
“Till now, it is our biggest achievement, winning a medal in men doubles feels so amazing since till now nobody won it and so it’s really special,” Satwik said.
Chirag said: “The feeling of winning a silver has sunk in now. It was our very first CWG and returning with a gold and silver was dream come true. A year back we didn’t even think of qualifying. Our only aim was to get higher in ranking.”
“We have never won a gold in mixed team championship in any of the major tournaments like the CWG, Asian games or Thomas Cup, for the last 45 years, so it was very special for us.”
Talking about the schedule this year, Chirag said: “After Thomas, we will have three back-to-back tournaments in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore but there will be 20-25 days to prepare for that. We will also have two weeks to prepare for the World Championship and another two weeks before we go for Asian Games.”
The duo feels it their attacking game and on court chemistry which earned them rewards and they will need to work on defence.
“We gel very well on court now. I have started playing well at the net and create opening for Satwik and I am sure if we can keep our attack for 90 percent of the time, there are hardly any pair who we can not beat. So it is the attack and chemistry that helps us to play against higher ranked pairs,” Chirag said.
Satwik said: “I think we need to practice on defence and we need to develop our mental strength.”
Satwik and Chirag also sight a place in top 15 of men’s doubles category and want to maintain that to play finals in super series events(World tour finals).”
Satwik also spoke about the role of Ashwini Ponnappa in his success.
“I think she is amazing during big matches. She showed her experience in this tournament. She played the key role in mixed doubles match. Our strategies worked really well. This year, we played India Open quarterfinal and we will play more tournaments from now on.”