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Srikanth, who was named Times of India Sports Award (TOISA) Sportsperson of the Year in February, is set to join the elite band two years after Saina Nehwal became the first Indian girl to become world No. 1. In March 2015, Saina had scaled the summit and remains the only Indian girl to achieve this feat thus far.
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Srikanth will be the first Indian man to achieve this fabulous feat in modern ranking era. Prior to the computerised ranking system, Prakash Padukone was regarded as world No.1 after he won three top tournaments in 1980.
Srikanth, who played a crucial role in helping India win gold at the Commonwealth Games on Monday, will move to the top of rankings with 76,895 points.
Reigning world No.1 and world champion Viktor Axelsen, who has 77130 points, will lose 1660 points and slip down the ladder. The Danish shuttler will lose points because he will be unable to defend what he had won at the Malaysian Open last year.
The Malaysian Open was held from April 4 to 9 last year but this year, it is scheduled for a later date. Badminton rankings are calculated for a period of 52 weeks. In this period, rankings points from the 10 best tournaments are taken into consideration.
Md Maqdoom Ahmed, a badminton analyst for the Sports Authority of India (SAI) said: “We’ve been anxiously waiting for this moment. He should have become No. 1 last year but 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. Though Srikanth won’t gain any points, Axelsen losing 1660 points will be good enough for the Indian,” Maqdoom told TOI.
Srikanth won four Super Series titles – Indonesia, Australia, Denmark, France – in 2017 to become the fourth shuttler in the world to achieve this feat. He had secured the No.2 ranking on November 2, 2017.
Srikanth’s father KVS Krishna said that they are waiting for the big moment. “We know he will become No.1 in a week or two. It’s definitely a proud moment for all of us,” Krishna said.