Kidambi Srikanth has risen to the top of the badminton world federation (BWF) rankings, becoming the first Indian male player to occupy top spot since Prakash Padukone in 1980.
In the latest rankings, released on Thursday, Srikanth has 76895 points, while Viktor Axelsen, who was No.1 until last week, is on 75470 points. Srikanth rose to the top of the rankings despite not adding any points from the previous week. Axelsen, who had 77130 points last week, was unable to defend the 1660 points he had won at the Malaysia Open last year, after the tournament had been postponed this season.
It is unlikely that the 25-year-old will be satisfied with what is a landmark achievement. "I am very happy about reaching the top but that is only one side of the coin. The other, and the most important one, is staying right there for as long as possible, that's all I am thinking about right now," he reportedly said from Gold Coast where he is competing in the Commonwealth Games.
Srikanth had expected to climb to the top four at the end of 2016 but suffered a stress fracture on his right ankle. He was forced to skip tournaments and his ranking fell, pushing him out of the top 30.
He would have a season to remember on his comeback, winning four Super Series in 2017 - an accomplishment matched by only three other men's players. Despite his success, the lack of a 'big' tournament remains a blank spot in his resume that some feel keeps him from being spoken of in the manner of a Sindhu or a Saina.
"I still feel I need to work on a lot of things. I've been compared to some really big names. I don't even think I can be compared to Gopichand sir or Prakash Padukone sir. I still need to win a big tournament like the All England, the world championships, the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics. That is the target," he had told ESPN last year.