(Reuters) – World champion Kento Momota has become the first Japanese man to top the Badminton World Federation rankings, replacing Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen at the top of the list for men’s singles.
Rio Olympic bronze medallist and 2017 world champion Axelsen slipped to third in the latest edition of the rankings, behind China’s Shi Yuqi.
Momota was suspended in April 2016 for visiting an illegal casino and missed the Olympics before returning to the tour at the Canadian Open in July last year.
The explosive 24-year-old won back-to-back tournaments in March and April this year before losing to Lee Chong Wei in the final of the Malaysia Open.
He beat Axelsen in the final of the Indonesia Open in July before winning the men’s singles title at world championships the following month in Nanjing.
Momota also won his home Japan Open earlier this month but finished a surprise runner-up behind Anthony Sinisuka Ginting at last week’s China Open, a second loss to the Indonesian in a few weeks after his reverse at the Asian Games in Jakarta.
(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru, editing by Nick Mulvenney)