Thanks to Kidambi Srikanth, 12 April 2018 became a momentous date in Indian badminton history.
It saw the release of the BWF World Rankings and the icing on top of that cake was none other than the in-form Kidambi.
His country India had a reason to celebrate, for that was the very first time it witnessed the rise of one of its sons to the summit of the men’s singles game.
The then 25-year-old ended the week on 76,895 points, comfortably ahead of Denmark’s world champion Viktor Axelsen (75,470).
The reward came on the back of an impressive 2017 season, which saw Kidambi win four BWF Super Series titles in Indonesia, Australia, Denmark and France.
Only a week before reaching the top, he played a starring role in the Indian mixed team’s gold medal success at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, claiming his maiden victory after five attempts over Malaysian great Lee Chong Wei in the final.
The feat was sweet for a man born to a landlord in the South Indian city of Guntur, having started his love affair with badminton as a seven-year-old at a municipal stadium near his house in 2000.
Kidambi’s unquestionable talent got him a place at the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad, where Pullela Gopichand whipped the raw youngster into shape and turned him into a world beater.
Kidambi immediately credited Gopichand for his ascend to the top.
“I would like to thank my coach Gopi (Pullela Gopichand) Sir for believing in me and my support staff for always taking care of me,” he tweeted upon becoming world No.1.
Unfortunately, recurring injuries meant he could only keep the top spot for a week. Kidambi is currently ranked 14th in the world.