When Saina Nehwal breached the top-five barrier in the rankings back in March 2010, the 20-year-old elatedly messaged a few well-wishers and journalists informing them about the achievement. Now, she climbs on and it’s journalists who are trying hard to get through to her.
There is a sense of jubilation at the record breaking Hyderabadi girl reaching a high that no other Indian woman shuttler had come anywhere near. On Thursday, Saina climbed one more peak by reaching the second spot in the world rankings but this time the euphoria has given way to an understanding that these are just numbers and that the standing does not really count unless you show big results.
The fickle nature of the ranking system is evident from the fact that Saina hasn’t played a tournament in the last three weeks and still managed to leapfrog Xin Wang to the second spot.
That’s because the Chinese dropped points by opting not to play last week.
The ranking system is based on the best 10 performances of the players in the last 52 weeks and if some other player registers good results in the next few weeks there could be considerable change in the standings. However, the race for the top may stay in suspended animation till the World Championship in August since Saina, world number one Yihan Wang and Xin are not scheduled to play any tournament before the flagship event.
Even if Saina creates history by becoming the first Indian to lift the world crown, it is no guarantee that she will become the world number one then. Yihan is still about 10,000 points ahead of the Indian and will not be defending considerable points in the championship since she was knocked out at the pre-quarterfinal stage last year.
Whether Saina manages to stay at the second spot or not in the near future, there is no doubting the fact that the Bharat Petroleum employee has reached this far on the basis of her consistent performance.
A lot of credit for Saina’s rise in the world ranking this year should go to national coach and her mentor Pullela Gopi Chand for making the 20-year-old realise that its the number of titles that stay with a player for life, rankings are just a whimsical spread of points based also on what other players are doing in a particular week.