Move over Paradorn, here comes dashing Danai
Thailand will herald a new tennis No 1 in Danai Udomchoke next week.
The down-to-earth player ends the long-time reign of Paradorn Srichaphan when the new ATP rankings are updated next Monday.
Danai, currently the world No 77, will take over the throne which Paradorn had made his own for a decade as the former world No 9 will plunge outside the top 80 next Monday following his first-round elimination from the Indian Wells Masters Series on Saturday.
Paradorn, who failed to defend the points he gained from reaching the semi-finals in the Masters Series last year, will lose 220 points and drop from 52 in the world this week to somewhere in 90s with 485 points. It will be his lowest spot in four years. But Danai has no points to defend and will remain in the top 80 with 495 points.
"I have never thought of becoming the country's No 1. Of course, I'm happy that I will be in the position next week," said the 25-year-old Danai, who was modest about the achievement, citing Paradorn's wrist injury has contributed to the unexpected development.
"If he hadn't injured himself, he would have been the No 1 player. It's a matter of luck," said Danai, who is entering a Challenger tournament in Florida this week as a warm-up for the next week's Masters Series in the same state.
Since sustaining tendonitis last year, Paradorn, who peaked to No 9 in 2003, has played only a few tournaments this year and had been out of action for two months until he returned to Indian Wells only to be routed by Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia and Montenegro 6-4 6-2.
A fully-fit Danai, on the contrary, has eclipsed his countryman since the start of the season with better results, which included a third-round appearance in the Australian Open, his best run in a Grand Slam event to date. Yet Danai admitted he should not be talked about in the same way as Paradorn.
"He was a much better player when he was world No 9 than I'm now. I cannot be compared to him because I'm different," added Danai, who said he would not be under any kind of pressure despite the fact that he would attract more attention from the public from now onwards.
"I will feel the same and try to play good tennis. I will try to reach my goal of breaking into the top 50. I haven't set a timeframe though."
The best-ranked player in Asia, however, is Korean Lee Hyung-taik, whom Danai beat for the Asian Games gold medal in Doha last December. Lee is ranked 44th in the world.