On April 12, 2018 – almost three years to the day Saina Nehwal achieved the feat – India’s K Srikanth displaced Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen as the world’s top-ranked men’s singles player as Badminton World Federation released its next weekly rankings on Thursday.
Srikanth, 25, will be the first Indian man to accomplish the feat after the rankings were computerised. Nehwal, in 2015, had become the first Indian ever to climb atop the world rankings. Badminton legend Prakash Padukone was the world No 1 in 1980, but the rankings were not official back then.
Srikanth moved to the top of the rankings with 76,895 points. Reigning world No 1 and world champion Viktor Axelsen, who has 77,130 points, lost 1,660 points as he won’t be able to defend his points due to injury.
Srikanth, however, said he is not done with improving as a player yet.
“I’m definitely delighted to have achieved the World No. 1 ranking for the first time, and to become the first Indian man after Prakash sir [when the rankings were not official] to achieve this. It’s a testament to the hard work of Gopi sir, my family, my other coaches and support staff, my team GoSports Foundation, my sponsors, and everyone else who has believed in me over the years,” Srikanth was quoted as saying in a release issued by GoSports Foundation who have been supporting him for the last six years.
“It’s been a great year, but I have many more goals, and right now, my focus is on coming good at the big events and achieving many more milestones. The Commonwealth Games is on, and this year also holds the Asian Games. My target is also to do my country proud at the Tokyo Olympics in two years’ time. I thank everyone for believing in me, and hope to inspire many other Indians to keep striving in their pursuit of excellence.”
Srikanth had missed the chance to top the charts last year – when he won four Super Series titles (in Indonesia, Australia, Denmark, France) – because of injury towards the end of the season.
He was also instrumental in helping India win the gold medal in the mixed-team event at the Commonwealth Games on Monday, although the CWG matches do not count towards ranking points. The shuttler beat Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei in straight games in the singles rubber to give India a 2-0 lead.