Badminton: China's best will be here

Badminton: China's best will be here
Chinese world No. 3 Wang Yihan (above) is bidding to be the first person to win the Singapore Open women’s singles title thrice in a row since Zhang Ning

Men's world No. 1 Chen Long and women's world No. 3 Wang Yihan will spearhead the country's 23-strong team at the OUE Singapore Open in April.

China will send a powerful team here even though the Super Series tournament falls just outside the qualifying window for the 2016 Rio Olympics, which begins on May 4 and ends on May 1 next year.

Singapore Open organising chairman Ng Yoke Weng said: "It is great news for local fans that world badminton powerhouse China is sending a strong squad for the upcoming OUE Singapore Open.

"While the 2015 edition falls outside the qualification period, the 2016 instalment of the event should be one of the last few tournaments where shuttlers will fight for the remaining points.

"With that said, we are still confident that top players will come for the OUE Singapore Open. The entries that we have received prove that point."

The US$300,000 ($406,000) tournament will take place from April 7 to 12 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, with tickets going on sale from 9am today on the SportsHubTix website.

Other than Wang and Chen, the Chinese team feature names like current world and Olympic mixed doubles champions Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei, as well as reigning Singapore Open men's doubles champions Cai Yun and Lu Kai.

Wang is bidding to become the first shuttler to win the women's singles title here three times in a row since countrywoman Zhang Ning (2003-2005), while men's No. 1 Chen is aiming to win his first Singapore Open title.

Said Chen: "The OUE Singapore Open is one of the more difficult tournaments to win because of the strong draught at the Indoor Stadium.

"However, I'm looking forward to coming this year and hopefully winning it."

The 26-year-old last competed here in 2011 when he lost to South Korea's Lee Hyun Il in the second round.

But the biggest name of all, reigning Olympic champion Lin Dan, is missing from the Chinese team list.

Regarded by some as the greatest badminton player of them all, Lin's last appearance here in 2011 ended in farce when he conceded the men's singles final to compatriot Chen Jin before the match started, citing a stomach upset.

There is still time for late entries, though, with countries and players having till the end of today to officially indicate they will play.

This article was first published on Feb 26, 2015.
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