Shuttler Lin Dan leads strong Chinese line-up for Singapore Open
Chinese superstar shuttler to lead 31-strong contingent to this year's OUE Singapore Open
His last visit here in 2011 ended in ignominy as a mysterious stomach ailment prevented him from first attending the pre-tournament press conference, and later the Singapore Open final, which teammate Chen Jin duly claimed with a walkover.
At the time, irate badminton fans shouted at two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan: "Don't come back!"
But the 32-year-old legend is still one of the best in the business and the organisers feel he can still be a formidable crowd-puller after the superstar shuttler confirmed he will return for this year's OUE Singapore Open at the Indoor Stadium.
"It's been a while since I came to Singapore and I am looking forward to returning here to earn as many qualifying points as I can before the Olympic qualifying period closes," said the world No. 5, who has five world titles to his name.
Lin Dan will lead a 31-strong Chinese contingent to Singapore. Other notable Chinese players to look out for at the April 12 to 17 event are men's singles world No. 1 Chen Long, and Olympic gold medallists Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei, who are back to defend their mixed doubles title.
Another defending champion to return is women's singles world No. 11 Sun Yu, who captured her maiden title at last year's tournament.
"I won my first Superseries title at the OUE Singapore Open last year and I'm definitely looking forward to go back to Singapore to defend my title and meeting my fans," said the 21-year-old.
Standing in her way is teammate and Olympic silver medallist Wang Yihan, the world No. 4 who had won the Singapore Open women's singles event in 2013 and 2014 before being dethroned by Sun last year.
This year's OUE Singapore Open will be the last Superseries event where shuttlers can earn precious qualifying points for the Rio Olympics in August.
And tournament organisers feel that China's world-class line-up will spur the other top badminton nations to confirm strong squads, with the March 1 registration closing date looming.
Ng Yoke Weng, the tournament's organising chairman, said: "With the China team lending their support to our event, we are confident that more big-name entries will start to fly in.
"Fans can expect to see mouth-watering clashes between top shuttlers from around the world battle for the US$350,000 ($501,000) prize purse."
Fans will also be able to catch national shuttlers such as 2012 Olympian and 2014 Commonwealth Games men's singles silver medallist Derek Wong, 2015 SEA Games men's singles silver medallist Loh Kean Yew and the mixed doubles pair of Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Vanessa Neo in action.
● Early-bird season tickets cost $30 to $150 until Feb 12. Family bundles during this period cost upwards of $70 (for one adult and one child), while tickets for children under 12 start from $5.