A rematch between Singapore’s own Loh Kean Yew and the legendary Lin Dan? It may just happen at the Singapore Badminton Open in April, after Lin confirmed his participation in the World Tour Super 500 event on Friday (15 February).
Lin, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and five-time world champion, will be part of a 35-strong Chinese contingent taking part in the Open, which will be held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium from 9-14 April.
Loh, 21, earned his first Badminton World Federation World Tour title in sensational style in January, beating Lin, one of the greatest shuttlers of all time, in the Thailand Masters final in Bangkok.
Currently ranked 12th in the world, the 35-year-old Lin was hoping to clinch his first title of 2019 at the Thailand Masters, but was stunned by 69th-ranked Loh in straight games.
Crucial period before Olympic qualifying starts
With the qualifying period for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics starting after the Open, top shuttlers such as Lin will be aiming to pick up ranking points and build up their playing form at the tournament.
In a media release from the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA), he said, “I have registered for quite a number of tournaments this year, including Singapore Badminton Open. I’m hoping to earn as many points as possible, to improve my ranking. I hope to get mentally prepared before the Olympic qualification period commences.”
He will be joined in the men’s singles competition by reigning Olympic champion Chen Long. Curiously, both Lin and Chen have yet to win their first Singapore Open titles despite being veterans on the World Tour circuit.
Former champion on comeback trail
Another Chinese Olympic winner, 2012 London Games women’s singles gold medallist Li Xuerui, will also be taking part in the Singapore Open.
The 28-year-old former world No. 1 is on the comeback trail after a serious anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered in 2016. During her enforced absence, Li’s world ranking fell to No. 242 in April last year.
However, after winning the Korea Masters in December, she has shot up the rankings chart to No. 22.
In the same release from SBA, Li said, “It’s been a long time since I last competed in Singapore and I’m using this to improve my ranking ahead of the Olympic qualifying period.
“Qualifying for the Olympics is definitely my target now. I’m building up my stamina and pace, getting ready for the upcoming tournaments when the qualifying period starts.”
Li will nonetheless face some tough competition in the women’s singles event at the Open, with 2013 world champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand and 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal of India having already confirmed their participations.
Other Olympic medallists who have confirmed their participation include Malaysia’s 2016 mixed doubles silver medallists Goh Liu Ying and Chan Peng Soon, as well as their compatriots, men’s doubles runners-up Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong.
Shuttlers have until 26 February to confirm their entries for the Singapore Open. Tickets are available via Sports Hub Tix and APAC Tix. Early-bird ticket sales end on 28 February.
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