Shi’s Summit Ascent Reflects Stellar Season

Men’s singles saw a new face at the summit of the BWF World Rankings, after a period of 132 weeks dominated by Viktor Axelsen.

Shi Yu Qi overtook Axelsen at the top of the rankings following a stellar ongoing season which has seen him win four titles from five finals.

Having been assured of the top spot after Axelsen’s withdrawal at the KAPAL API Indonesia Open 2024, Shi celebrated by winning the title – a week after he had won the KFF Singapore Badminton Open 2024.

The Chinese 28-year-old has had a dream season so far. Following a runner-up finish to Axelsen at the PETRONAS Malaysia Open 2024, Shi went on to win back-to-back titles in India and France, made the semifinals of the BANK OF NINGBO Badminton Asia Championships 2024, helped his country regain the Thomas Cup, and achieved success on consecutive weeks in Singapore and Indonesia.

Despite the enormity of the achievement, Shi characteristically downplayed the importance of his ascent to the top.

“To be the world No.1 means a lot to me and I’m proud. When I look back on this it will be meaningful, but for now, I place greater value on my performance in each match and each tournament.”

Shi has been among the world’s best for several years now, but this season has seen him shift his level up a notch. He refused to dwell on what exactly the turning point was, choosing to talk about the process rather than a singular moment. It is significant though that after eight consecutive losses to his former nemesis Axelsen, he finally broke through in the group stage of the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals last December, and then repeated that feat in the semifinals of the Malaysia Open this January.

“Viktor Axelsen has been No.1 for a long time — I’m sure there was pressure on him all along. As No.1 I need to be focussed on every match and every tournament. I need to consistently reach semifinals and finals and my mental abilities and technical skills also have to be very good. So I think it’s about maintaining a high level.”

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