Chen Long, Lin Dan to compete at Australian Open

Sydney, May 3 (IANS) The Chinese duo of World No.1 Chen Long and No.3 Lin Dan will battle it out against other top shuttlers from 28 countries at the upcoming Australian Badminton Open next month, to make their final preparations for the Rio Olympics in August.

Chen is facing stiff competition as Lin sets to make amends for his shock early exit at the 2015 tournament while runner-up, giant slayer and European Champion Viktor Axelsen is looking to go one place better, reports Xinhua.

The tournament will also feature the best shuttlers from Indonesia, India, Denmark and Malaysia.

The entire draw will feature all the Chinese shuttlers in the top 10, including World No.1 women’s doubles pairing Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahasi, reigning women’s singles Olympic Champion Li Xuerui and reigning world champion mixed doubles pair of Zhao Yunlei and Zhang Nan.

“For those who are not able to get to the Olympics, (the) Australian Open is basically the Olympics,” tournament director Loke Poh Wong told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.

“All the best players are participating (here), are competing (here), and (it’s) the last event before the Olympics.”

Australia’s upcoming badminton superstar Gronya Somerville told Xinhua on Tuesday that she and her doubles partner Setyana Mapasa looking to beat some of the top pairs they compete on home soil.

“It’s the biggest event in Australia and it’s our pleasure to compete on home soil,” Somerville said.

Somerville is the great granddaughter of Kang Youwei, a renowned scholar and political reformer of China’s Qing Dynasty.

The Aussie pairing haven’t yet been confirmed to compete at the Rio Olympics, but taking out some of the world’s top pairs couldn’t be better preparation for sporting’s biggest stage.

Mapasa hails from Indonesia but is looking to get her Australian citizenship within the next week as selection for Rio draws near.

“She also needs to get her three year ban of how soon you can represent another country cleared because at the time of the Olympics she’ll still be 80 days early than where her three-year rule has finished,” Somerville said.

“It’s touch and go whether that will get approved, but once that get’s approved we’ll definitely qualify with the ranking that we have now.”

The Australian Badminton Open, with lucrative prize pool of $750,000, starts in Sydney on June 7.



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