The sport of badminton has seen some of the best athletes and technically astute players over the last 30 odd years. As the sport moved into the new millennium, the players started becoming even more physically and technically dominant and we saw rivalries develop that took players to new heights.
From Taufik Hidayat and Peter Gade to Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei, badminton fans were never given a dull moment as the players took the sport to a whole new level where the next generation might struggle to keep up.
Here is the list of the 5 best singles players in the history of the sport:
5. Wang Yihan
To be honest, it was a coin flip between Yihan and her compatriot Gao Ling, but Yihan's unnatural consistency propels her up. The now-retired star had a better head to head record with almost every major player she faced apart from Tai Tzu Ying who held the upper hand by a score of 5-4.
Yihan won the World Championships just once at London 2011 but failed to win the Olympic gold at the same venue the very next year. However, what set her apart from all other players of her generation was the sheer dominance that she enjoyed over all her rivals during the regular season. She won a record 20 Superseries singles titles in 12 different tournaments between 2008 and 2014.
4. Taufik Hidayat
When the new generation of players is asked who inspired them to take up badminton as a sport, more often than not, the name Taufik Hidayat comes up. The Indonesian superstar won his local Superseries event a record 6 times and won the World Championship and the Olympic gold once each.
But it is not the medals and trophies that he is remembered for - it was his playing style. Hidayat's backhand is still considered by many as the best in history. He was able to generate unusual amounts to power on either side and even held the record for the fastest smash in history for a while for 305 km/hr smash at the 2006 world championships.
3. Li Lingwei
If Wang Yihan showed the world it could be possible to be a dominant female player in a sport that is usually very competitive, Li Lingwei was the inventor of dominance.The former Chinese player is still considered by many as the greatest ever female player the world of badminton has ever seen. Not only was her court coverage excellent, there wasn't a shot she could not pull off.
If you ignore
2. Lee Chong Wei
If there has been one guy in the sport who deserved a break, it was Lee Chong Wei. The Malaysian became the top-ranked player in the world in 2008 and held the top spot for 199 consecutive weeks. He is the only player on this list to never win a World Championship or Olympic gold medal but leaving him off this list would be outright criminal.
The 34-year-old reached the Olympic finals twice but lost on both occasions and did the same in three World Championships. He collected the BWF player of the year award four times, but it was his performance in the Superseries events that got him on this list. The Malaysian has won an astounding 44 Superseries/Superseries Premier Championships. It is a record that would take some beating.
1. Lin Dan
If you thought there was even the slightest chance that Lin "Super" Dan would not top the list! He is the only player to complete a “Super Grand Slam” winning all the majors in the sport of badminton. He won the Olympic Games(2), World Championships(5), World Cup(2), All-England Open(6), Sudirman Cup(5), Super Series Masters Finals(1), Thomas Cup(5), Asian Games(4), and the Asian Championships (4).
He is the only player in the history of badminton to retain his Olympic crown after winning it in two consecutive Olympics. Even when his powers had waned to a shadow, he managed to reach the semi-finals at the 2016 Rio Games and was within two points of becoming the first player to reach three Olympic finals. Surprisingly, the Chinese star won the BWF player of the year just once in 2008.