Chirag Shetty-Satwiksairaj Rankireddy doubles pair pull out of Thomas Cup

The Indian men’s doubles team has withdrawn from the Denmark championship since Satwiksairaj Rankireddy is yet to recover from COVID-19.

By Naveen Peter

The top-ranked Indian doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have pulled out of the upcoming Thomas Cup scheduled in Denmark next month.

The 20-year-old Satwiksairaj Rankireddy was diagnosed with COVID-19 on August 27 and was under home quarantine for the past weeks.

With little time to prepare for a competitive return, the Indian duo has decided to withdraw from the Denmark event. Thomas Cup winners are the official men’s team champions of the world. Uber Cup is its women’s version.

“He (Satwiksairaj Rankireddy) is due to take another COVID-19 test on Monday and we will decide our future based on that,” Chirag Shetty told the Olympic Channel.

“If the result is negative (for COVID-19), Satwiksairaj will need a few more days before we can hit the court. We are hoping to join the camp around September 15.”

The Thomas and Uber Cups are slated for an October 3 start and the Indian team is expected to travel to Aarhus, Denmark at least a week in advance, given the COVID-19 protocols in place. The camp for the tournament starts Monday.

“Two and a half weeks of practice would be a bit less for Satwik,” said Chirag Shetty, explaining the reason behind their decision.

“We spoke with Gopi sir (national chief coach Pullela Gopichand) and the (Badminton Association of India) BAI and decided it’s better to skip the event since it will be bad for the team if we have a half-hearted doubles pair at the Thomas Cup.”

Though the Indian men’s doubles pair hopes to participate in the Denmark Open Super 750 event and the Denmark Masters, which will follow the Thomas and Uber Cups, their return will depend on how well Satwiksairaj Rankireddy recovers in the coming days.

Indian team for Thomas and Uber Cup

In their absence, the doubles responsibilities will fall on Olympians Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy.

Meanwhile, the top-ranked Indian shuttlers in the singles segment B Sai Praneeth and Srikanth Kidambi will lead the team’s charge. Veteran Parupalli Kashyap and Lakshya Sen will complete the line-up.

Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy will shoulder the doubles responsibility in the absence of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy.

Among women, with Rio Olympics silver medallist PV Sindhu pulling out of the competition due to personal reasons, Saina Nehwal is poised to lead a young Indian team in the Uber Cup.

Accompanying the London 2012 bronze medallist will be Ashmita Chaliha, Aakarshi Kashyap, Malvika Bansod and Ira Sharma in the singles, while the experienced pair of Ashwini Ponappa and N Sikki Reddy will handle the doubles.

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) is hoping to resume the 2020 season with Thomas and Uber Cups on October 3, which will be followed by the Denmark Open on October 13 and the Denmark Masters a week later.