Badminton star Kidambi Srikanth to be crowned world No. 1 this week
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Badminton star Kidambi Srikanth to be crowned world No. 1 this week

Kidambi Srikanth, who led India to their first badminton mixed team gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games (CWG 2018) on Monday, will go past Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, the current world champion, in the BWF world rankings.

other sports Updated: Apr 11, 2018 08:17 IST
2018 Commonwealth Games,CWG 2018,Kidambi Srikanth
Kidambi Srikanth beat Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei during the men's singles match of mixed badminton team final at the 2018 Commonwealth Games (CWG 2018) in Gold Coast, on Monday, to set India rolling towards gold. (PTI)

After leading India to their first badminton mixed team gold at Commonwealth Games, Kidambi Srikanth will reach the pinnacle of international badminton on Thursday, becoming the first Indian man to be ranked as the world’s No.1 singles player. (CWG live updates)

Srikanth will go past Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, the current world champion, who has been out of action since retiring from the second round of the Indonesia Masters in January with an ankle injury. He subsequently pulled out of the India Open Superseries, the All England Open and the European Championships after a surgery.

Axelsen is currently on 77,130 points in the ranking charts while Srikanth is at 76,895 points. But the Dane is likely to lose 1,660 points this week, taking Srikanth go to the top spot when the new Badminton Wold Federation rankings are released on April 12.

READ MORE |Heena Sidhu, Sachin Chaudhary add to medal tally at 2018 Commonwealth Games

Saina Nehwal had become the top ranked player in women’s badminton on April 3, 2015, soon after winning the India Open. “This is a huge achievement for Srikanth as well as for Indian badminton,” chief national coach Pullela Gopichand said from Gold Coast, Australia.

“There has been a lot of talk about our women doing well, but now we will have a men’s No.1. This will help Srikanth become more relaxed. Whatever happens from here, he will always know that he was ranked as the best in the world -- that he has accomplished that goal . It will help him focus more on winning tournaments,” said Gopichand, who was the last Indian to win the All England Open in 2001. He reached a career high of five in the world rankings.

READ MORE | India beat Malaysia to book semis berth in men’s hockey at 2018 Commonwealth Games

India’s other All England champion, Prakash Padukone, was regarded as the world No 1 in 1980, though the ranking system was not official.

Srikanth’s journey

Since he burst onto the international scene, winning the Thailand Open GP title in 2013, Srikanth, who started as a doubles player, has never looked back. He won four Super Series titles last season and came close to claiming the World No.1 ranking.

READ MORE | Jitu Rai, badminton and table tennis add to India’s gold rush in Gold Coast

Having played a key role in India’s historic mixed team even gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, where he demolished legendary Malaysian Lee Chong Wei, the World No.1 status will boost Srikanth as he enters the singles competition as the top seed.

“I never expected Srikanth to beat Lee Ching Wei with such ease. Srikanth kept the pressure on Lee Chong once he got off to a good start. The gold medal in mixed team event was a great victory. I remember we used to lose to teams like Canada, England. And now to beat a formidable team like Malaysia only shows that Indian badminton is on its way up,” said Gopichand.

“I believe that Srikanth has a lot of potential and there is a lot more for him to achieve,” added Gopichand.

First Published: Apr 11, 2018 07:51 IST