LONDON (Reuters) – World and Olympic champion Lin Dan of China makes a belated seasonal bow in Birmingham on Wednesday at the 100th All England Championships, the oldest and most prestigious tournament in world badminton.
The titleholder skipped the first two Super Series events this year in South Korea and Malaysia after a tiring 2009 but is keen to get back on track.
The Chinese, seeking his fifth men’s singles All England title in seven years, finds himself seeded two behind world number one Lee Chong Wei.
The Malaysian won in South Korea and Malaysia though he has often been outplayed by the mercurial Lin in big matches.
To try to buck the trend, coach Misbun Sidek has had Chong Wei playing left-handers on a regular basis in training as simulation for the task ahead.
"It is not the same as playing Lin Dan but it will help Chong Wei to prepare for the match," he said in a media release.
"More importantly, Chong Wei must also stay focussed when playing Lin Dan as it is important to be physically and mentally ready to play the Chinese."
It is hard to see beyond the top two though 2004 Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia has climbed back to three in the world rankings and Denmark’s Peter Gade, world number five, can never be discounted.
England’s challenge is led by national champion Rajiv Ouseph, likely cheered by an announcement on Monday that former European champion Kenneth Jonassen of Denmark is to be England’s new singles coach from July.
In the women’s singles, Wang Yihan, the Chinese who won the title unseeded last year, is top seed this time round.
Denmark’s Tine Rasmussen, 2008 winner and 2009 runner-up, has slipped to 10 in the world rankings but remains a danger.
The All Englands are the third leg of the 12-stage BWF Super Series circuit culminating in December’s finals.