China juggernaut rolls into badminton Sudirman Cup

China look set to confirm their dominance of world badminton when the Sudirman Cup gets under way on Sunday as their rivals try to find a way to prevent a ninth Chinese team championship in the event.

The 13th edition of the tournament -- held every two years -- is hosted this time by Malaysia, and even without superstar Lin Dan the defending champs may have too much firepower and all-around depth for the other 11 competitors.

All-England champion Chen Long, the world's No. 2-ranked shuttler, has become a force and his recent victories over world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia give him added confidence as he headlines the Chinese campaign.

The Chinese also boast arguably the best men's pairs team in reigning world champs and 2012 Olympic gold medallists Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng, who have looked nearly unbeatable.

Their women are just as strong with reigning world singles champion Wang Yihan and 2012 Olympic gold medallist Li Xuerui leading the charge.

Indonesia, India, Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Germany, Taiwan, Denmark, Japan and Singapore will be aiming to derail the Chinese locomotive in the tournament, which runs to May 26.

The Chinese are grouped with India and Indonesia, and the top two teams will qualify for the quarter-finals, where a second round of seedings based on the latest world rankings will determine match-ups for the knock-out stages.

Last year's runners-up Denmark, who are grouped with Singapore and Japan, will be hard-pressed to maintain their impressive record of making the semis following the recent retirements of stalwart Peter Gade and women's star Tine Baun.

The Europeans have reached 10 Sudirman Cup semi-finals but never the overall title.

South Korea have won it three times and Indonesia once, but China have owned it since 1995, winning eight of the last nine Sudirman Cups, including the last four.

Traditional power Indonesia's fortunes have slid in recent years, and while they were third two years ago, they may struggle to reach the semi-finals.

Thailand, meanwhile, are no longer the minnows of badminton, with fresh-faced youngster Ratchanok Inthanon, the All-England finalist and India Open champion, expected to continue her strong run of form.

Bolstered by another emerging force in men's singles player Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk and versatile veteran Boonsak Ponsana, Thailand are favoured to qualify from their group.

Malaysia, led by favourite son and top-ranked shuttler Lee Chong Wei, and perennial powers South Korea also are expected to make the final four.

  • 2015 Chevrolet Trax small SUV rolls back to America 8 hours ago
    2015 Chevrolet Trax small SUV rolls back to America

    For the past two years, car shoppers from Acapulco to Winnipeg could wander into their Chevy dealers and kick the tires on a city-sized sport utility vehicle named the Trax — and about 90,000 have done so. Today, Chevy revealed the version of the Trax it will bring to the United States, for those less well-heeled buyers who want the shape of an SUV without the window sticker they usually carry.

  • Ford Transit Skyliner concept revives the ultra-luxury van 11 hours ago
    Ford Transit Skyliner concept revives the ultra-luxury van

    “Once you do stand-up, you don’t want to go back.” No, we’re not talking about comedy, but rather an emerging trend in luxury transport that’s bringing us ever taller, more capacious, more pimpdillyicious limousines. The quote came from a Ford designer, Tim Stoehr, predicting an increase in interest in limos based on big vans like the new Transit. Of course, these are nothing new; up-fitters have taken quite kindly to the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, and apparently Ford is chomping at the bit to get in on the action, too. So Ford enlisted the help of the largest Ford dealer in the world, Galpin Auto Sports in Van Nuys, Calif., to help design and build its first super-lux Transit concept, dubbed the Skyliner.

  • Driving the 2016 BMW X5 eDrive, the plugged-in SUV 15 hours ago
    Driving the 2016 BMW X5 eDrive, the plugged-in SUV

    Automakers worldwide have gradually (some would say grudgingly) attempted to make their high-profit and highly popular SUVs as efficient and clean-running as their lower weight passenger cars — namely through the grafting of a plug-in hybrid system.

  • Amazon to release smartphone later this year: report
    Amazon to release smartphone later this year: report

    Amazon is preparing to release a smartphone in the second half of 2014, thrusting itself into a market already crowded with Apple and Samsung models, The Wall Street Journal reported. The company aims to announce its new product by the end of June and ship to customers by the end of September in time for the holidays, the Journal said in a Friday report, citing unnamed people briefed on the matter. Amazon, it said, hopes to differentiate its phone from other models with a screen that displays hologram-like three-dimensional images, which can be viewed without special glasses. Earlier this month the retailer unveiled a new media streaming device, Amazon Fire TV, which it touted as simplifying the experience of watching video online.

  • One dead as S. Korea ferry with 476 passengers sinks
    One dead as S. Korea ferry with 476 passengers sinks

    South Korea's coastguard said Wednesday one person had been killed as it struggled to rescue 476 people -- mostly high school students -- aboard a ferry that ran aground and sank off the southern coast. "The ferry is almost completely submerged," Lee said, adding that a detachment of South Korean Navy SEALS were taking part in the rescue. Of the 450 passengers on board the ferry bound for the southern resort island of Jeju, 325 were students from a high school in Ansan, south of Seoul. The 6,825-tonne ferry, which had sailed out of the western port of Incheon on Tuesday evening, ran into trouble some 20 kilometres (13 miles) off the island of Byungpoong.