Rankireddy/Shetty and Li carry their flags into the top ten

Two new additions to the badminton world’s top tens – Satwiksairaj Rankireddy / Chirag Shetty and Michelle Li – have done what none from their nations have done for a […]

Two new additions to the badminton world’s top tens – Satwiksairaj Rankireddy / Chirag Shetty and Michelle Li – have done what none from their nations have done for a long time.

Photos: Yves Lacroix / Badmintonphoto

Reaching the world’s top ten is a major milestone in the career of any athlete.  But for the two newest additions to the top ten in the latest Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings, it is also a milestone for the nation.

Michelle Li (pictured below) had a couple of amazing results in the past few weeks.  She made up for a failed attempt to win back her home Canada Open title by first toppling world #1 Tai Tzu Ying – and thereby reaching the semi-final of the Japan Open Super 750, the biggest final four of her career so far – and then by winning her third consecutive Pan Am Games gold medal in women’s singles.  Together with her career-best title at the Macau Open Super 300 late last year, these results have helped put Michelle Li at #9 in the women’s singles rankings, her best so far.

A few days after Li took gold in Lima, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy / Chirag Shetty (pictured top) took a  Super 500 title for the first time.  For the Indian pair, it came just less than a year after their first ever Super 100 title and these are two of the reasons they too moved up to #9 in the world.  Incidentally, the loss of those Hyderabad Open points will take them back out of the top ten next week, for the time being at least.

For both of these new top tens, there was an accompanying milestone for their nation, as well.  The Thailand Open title was the biggest doubles title for India at least since the beginning of the Superseries era in 2007.  While Gutta Jwala and Diju Valiyaveetil won a couple of Grand Prix gold titles, there appear to have been no Indian doubles winners in the pre-2007 Grand Prix era, going back to 1983.

Not only that, but we can find no Indian men’s doubles pairs ranked in the top 10 since the BWF’s continuous records begin in 2009.  India, of course, has two active singles shuttlers who have been all the way up to world #1.  But how much of a milestone this is for the new badminton power in what was once one of its weaker disciplines will remain a mystery, at least until the years of world data that were taken offline a decade ago are re-discovered.

Michelle Li’s accomplishment have a slightly clearer time frame.  No Canadian won anything higher than a Grand Prix title during the Superseries and indeed, the last pre-2007 Grand Prix title for Canadians came when Denyse Julien won the Puerto Rico Open in 2002.  That makes her Super 300 title in Macau last year the biggest for any Canadian in a long, long time.  On the other hand, a Canadian won the All England 80 years ago so it is hardly as simple as just saying it is Canada’s best ever result in world badminton.

As for ranking, archivist and photographer Yves Lacroix has come across what the International Badminton Federation called in 1981 its ‘first ever official computer ranking list’ with Canadian Wendy Carter at – coincidentally – #9.  There were other Canadians subsequently ranked in the top ten in both singles and doubles and the most recent we can verify was a #10 status in 1998 for mixed doubles pair Denyse Julien / Iain Sydie.  But certainly Michelle Li is the first Canadian – again, since the BWF’s continuous records begin in 2009 – in the top ten, but in any discipline.  In fact, she may be the first top ten Canadian this millennium.

Both players are next scheduled on court at the BWF World Championships in Basel.

Click here for the BWF World Rankings for August 6th, 2019.

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Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @ badzine.net