Top Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal took over the World No. 1 rankings in women’s singles post defeat of Spanish player Carolina Marin to Ratchanok Intanon. Saina Nehwal had recently lost to Marin in All England Open finals in Birmingham but at India Open Superseries, the 25-year old Hyderabadi became the World No. 1 in the rankings. She is the first Indian woman badminton player to attain the feat. Prakash Padukone was the sole Indian to be the prestigious World No. 1 men’s badminton player.
The Hyderabadi was ranked No.2 in the world and held a very good chance to overtake China’s Li Xuerui and become the highest ranked player in the world. ”I want to be the best. It’s not about the ranking, it’s about being consistent. Li Xuerui is injured. You can’t ignore the fact that she’s the best player in the world,” said the 25-year-old. The race for the the No.1 ranking in women’s singles entered its home stretch on Friday at the $275,000 India Open Superseries with Saina and reigning World Champion Carolina Marin both making the semifinals.
Saina was favoured to seize the coveted position. Only a semifinal loss followed by Carolina’s title win could have denied her the historic moment. ”Everybody dreams of winning the Olympics or the World Championships. I’m one of them. But I want to be relaxed, enjoy my game. Becoming No.1 is a good thing. If it’s in my destiny, it will happen,” said the top seeded player of India Open being held here at the Siri Fort Sports Complex.
China have dominated women’s singles ranking over decades, with few interruptions. The last non-Chinese woman to be World No.1 was Denmark’s Tine Baun in December 2010. ”It’s not just about being No.1. I feel blessed that I’m in the top five,” concluded Saina. Saina Nehwal sailed past Indonesia’s Hana Ramadhini to make her maiden semifinals at the India Open Super Series while giant-killer H S Prannoy and RMV Gurusaidutt went down fighting in the quarterfinals. Olympic bronze medallist Saina defeated Hana 21-15 21-12 in the women’s singles competition at the Siri Fort Sports Complex,