Indian shuttle ace Kidambi Srikanth will enter hallowed territory on Thursday. He will achieve what no other Indian male shuttler has accomplished ever since the Badminton World Federation adopted a computerised ranking system—become World No. 1.
By all metrics, the 25-year-old from Ravulapalem, Andhra Pradesh, is now the world’s best. This is pure excellence.
Srikanth will slide into the top of the rankings with 76,895 points. Yesterday, he helped his country secure gold in the mixed team Badminton event at the Commonwealth Games.
Current World No. 1 Viktor Axelsen from Denmark with 77,130 points will drop 1660 points because of his inability ability to defend the Malaysian Open trophy which was held from April 4-9 last year. For obvious scheduling reasons, the tournament is postponed this time. Rankings are calculated by the points a player accumulates over the past 52 weeks and the 10 best tournaments.
“We’ve been anxiously waiting for this moment. He should have become No. 1 last year, but an injury prevented him from playing the year-end tournaments. Had he reached quarterfinals in a couple of those tournaments he could have become No. 1. Although Srikanth won’t gain any points, Axelsen losing 1660 points will be good enough for the Indian,” said Md Maqdoom Ahmed, a badminton analyst for the Sports Authority of India, to the Times of India.
The last Indian male badminton player to even enter the conversation was Prakash Padukone, who was considered World No. 1 when he won three cup tournaments in 1980.
It was in 2015 when Saina Nehwal became the first and only Indian woman to become World No. 1. Following last night’s news, Srikanth has finally come out of the shadow of PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, his more celebrated contemporaries.
In the last rankings released on November 2, 2017, Srikanth was World No. 2, and had agonisingly missed out on becoming World No. 1 due to an injury. However, despite this, he had a phenomenal year and won four Super Series titles—Australia, Indonesia, Denmark and France. This achievement not only made him the first Indian to win the Indonesia Super Series Title but he also became only the fourth shuttler in the world to win four Super Series titles in a year.
Srikanth currently trains at the Gopichand Badminton Academy, Hyderabad under the tutelage of another legend, Pullela Gopichand, and is supported by the GoSports Foundation, Bangalore.
Watch Kidambi Srikanth in action during the 2017 Indonesia Super Series Final:
(Source: Djarum Badminton)