Kidambi Srikanth creates history, clinches top spot in men’s badminton rankings
Kidambi Srikanth became the new World No. 1 in the badminton rankings after the 2018 Commonwealth Games mixed team gold medalist overtook Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen.other sports Updated: Apr 12, 2018 13:32 IST
Kidambi Srikanth added another feather to his cap as the Indian shuttler displaced Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen to become the new World No. 1 in the Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings on Thursday. Srikanth, who currently has 76,895 points, clinched the top spot after Axelsen lost at least 1660 points because he could not defend his Malaysian Open title because of scheduling issues. (CWG 2018 LIVE UPDATES)
Srikanth, who is currently the top seed in the 2018 Commonwealth Games badminton men’s singles, defeated Sri Lanka’s Niluka Karunaratne 2-0 (21-10, 21-10) in just 33 minutes to reach the quarterfinals.
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 earlier 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.
Since bursting onto the international scene when he won the Thailand Open Grand Prix title in 2013, Srikanth has enjoyed a brilliant run of form as he clinched four Super Series titles last season and came close to claiming the World No.1 ranking. 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 looks to win his second CWG gold medal after the mixed team title he clinched with Ashwini Ponnappa.
“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.