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Kidambi Srikanth becomes No 1 badminton player in the world

By Unnikrishnan
Kidambi Srikanth climbs to world No 1 slot in the latest BWF rankings

Bengaluru, April 12: India's Kidambi Srikanth on Thursday (April 12) became the numero uno badminton player in the world, the first Indian male player to achieve the feat.

In fact, Srikanth is the only second Indian player after Saina Nehwal, who achieved the feat in 2015, to perch on top of the badminton rankings once BWF started the computerised ranking system in 1995. In the pre-computer days, legendary Prakash Padukone had become world no 1 in 1980s after winning the All England Open but the process was not an all encompassing one then.

The 25-year-old shuttler's prolific form in 2017, during which he won a record four Super Series titles, helped him reach 76895 rating points, the best ever by an Indian male badminton player.

The latest BWF rankings chart

Srikanth displaced Denmark's Victok Axelsen from the top spot after he failed to defend his Malaysian Open crown.

Srikanth's climb to No 1 in the BWF rankings began during a successful 2016, in which he won two gold medals in the men's team and men's singles of the 2016 South Asian Games, followed by a quarterfinals appearance in the Rio Olympics.

Then came 2017, the watershed year in his life. Srikanth won four Super Series titles, the most by any Indian badminton player ever and finished runner-up in the Singapore Open Super Series to compatriot B Sai Praneeth in what was the first instance of two Indian shuttlers reaching a Super Series final.

Srikanth's first Super Series title came when he beat Japan's Kazumasa Sakai 21-11, 21-19 to win the Indonesia Open Super Series. Later, the Indian beat world and Olympic champion Chen Long in straight games 22-20, 21-16 to claim the Australia Open Super Series.

With these wins, he became the first Indian to claim back-to-back Super Series titles and subsequently broke into the top 10 of the BWF men's singles rankings for the first time in 10 months, up to eighth.

In October 2017, Srikanth became the second Indian after Prakash Padukone to win the Denmark Open, the second Indian, after Saina, and first male to claim three Super Series in a year.

History was made a week later, when he lifted the French Open by beating Kento Nishimoto 21-14, 21-13. With this, Srikanth moved from No 4 to a No 2 in the BWF men's singles rankings.

Now, that exhilarating journey has reached its logical culmination and Srikanth will be eyeing more glories in the days to come.

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Story first published: Thursday, April 12, 2018, 13:38 [IST]
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