On Sunday, India’s top male singles’ badminton player, 24-year-old Srikanth Kidambi, won the Denmark Super Series Premier Title. He demolished left-handed South Korean player Lee Hyun-il 21-10, 21-5 in the final. In doing so, he broke many glass ceilings.
2017 has been remarkable for Indian badminton and the P. Gopichand Academy. With two Super Series titles in consecutive weeks, Srikanth has now become the first Indian male singles’ player to be ranked No. 2 in the world. Last Sunday, he had won the French Open by dismissing Kenta Nishimoto in straight sets in the final. He joins PV Sindhu, the Indian women’s singles’ player currently ranked No. 2 in the world.
He has ranked ahead of legends like Lin Dan (4) and Lee Chong Wei (8). He added Denmark and France to another back-to-back victory spree this year: the Indonesia Super Series followed by the Australian Open.
World No. 2 Srikanth now has 6 Super Series titles to his name and 10 in total. He is only behind Saina Nehwal (10) in the Super Series tally. He won his first Super Series back in 2014 when he defeated the greatest badminton player in the history of the sport. Lin Dan, who has won an astounding 21 Super Series singles titles, was beaten in his own backyard in China to announce Srikanth’s arrival on the world stage. However, after adding the India Open next year to his bounty, he missed much of 2016 because of an ankle injury.
Here are some interesting facts about India’s top player:
- He became the first ever Indian player to reach 5 Super Series finals in the same year. Saina held the record for 3 summit clashes – and now Srikanth has 5. He lost just the Singapore Open final to compatriot B. Sai Praneeth.
- He became only the fourth ever male player to win four or more Super Series titles in a single year after Lin Dan (5), Lee Chong Wei (7) and Chen Long (5).
- World No. 1 and current World Champion, Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, was defeated by Srikanth in the quarterfinals of the Denmark Open last week. Srikanth is the only current top-10 player to have beaten the Dane in their last meeting.
- He became only the sixth player in history (and first Indian ever) to reach three consecutive Super Series finals back in June.
- He currently tops the race standings for the year-ending Dubai World Superseries finals – where the top 8 players qualify on basis of their annual performance at major tournaments.
- He tops the prize-money earnings at the end of October for the year.
- On fast courts, he has defeated gold medalist Chen Long and silver medalist Lee Chong Wei in Australia, and has also dominated former World No. 1 Son Wan Ho.
- Srikanth is yet to win a medal at the Olympics and World Championships. One might think it’s only a matter of time.