How Saina Nehwal became World No. 1 even before winning her semifinal match
Indian Badminton queen and Olympic bronze medalist Saina Nehwal created history today as she became the first ever female shuttler from India to become the World No. 1 in the badminton world rankings.
The only Indian ever to have reached that spot before is Prakash Padukone, who achieved that incredible feat in 1980 after winning the prestigious All England title.
Nehwal also became the first non-Chinese player in five years to become No. 1. She reached the summit after Ratchanok Intanon defeated World and All England Badminton champion Carolina Marin in the first semifinal.
Reigning Olympic Champion and current World No. 1 Li Xuerui pulled out of the India Open and consequently lost 7,800 points which she earned by finishing as the runner-up in the last edition of the tournament. Having started the week at 79,214 points, she will end the week on 71,414, while Nehwal, who lost in the quarters last year, bettered her performance by reaching the semis.
The only obstacle in Saina and her World No. 1 spot was the World No. 4 Spanish shuttler Carolina Marin. If Saina had lost in the quarters and Marin had won the title, then by virtue of having more points Marin would have been the World No. 1.
But now that Marin is out, even if Saina loses in the semis she will still get to the No. 1 position. She had 74,381 points before the tournament began, and finishing as a semifinalist will take her total points to 80,801. As Marin had already lost in the semis, she will get 6,420 points and her overall points will increase to 78,518. The Spaniard will thus replace Chinese ace Wang Shixian to become the new World No. 2.
The Badminton World Federation referesh their world rankings every Thursday, so officially Saina will earn this spot only on 2nd April.