Saina Nehwal becomes first Indian to be ranked No.1

Saina Nehwal becomes first Indian to be ranked No.1

NEW DELHI: Saina Nehwal has become the first Indian woman on top of the world rankings.

The 25-year-old is also the only Indian to achieve the No.1 rank after the modern ranking system was introduced in the late 90s, according to reports.

Saina achieved this phenomenal feat after world champion Carolina Marin, the other contender for the top spot, lost in the India Open semifinals, paving the way for Saina's accession to the throne when the rankings will be released on Thursday.

The Olympic bronze medallist came close to this when she became No. 2 in July, 2010. But injuries and dip in form pushed her down the ladder before she fought her way back to the top by winning the Australian Open, China Open and the Indian Grand Prix Gold in the last 10 months.

Coupled with her splendid show was the stunning drop in form of top Chinese shuttlers like Olympic champion Li Xuerui, former world champion Wang Yihan and two-time All England champion Wang Shixian, which made things easier for Saina. These three top players are still injuries.

After winning a Grand Prix Gold tournament in the Phillippines in 2006, Saina kept getting better. She went on to eclipse the greats of Indian badminton like Prakash Padukone and her long time coach Pullela Gopichand by winning close to 20 international titles.

(With inputs from agencies)

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