`Super Dan` set for Super Series swoop

Singapore: Chinese great Lin Dan is poised to seize control of badminton`s showpiece Super Series in Singapore this week as he goes in search of the only major honour to elude him.

Strutting "Super" Dan, a pin-up for millions of adoring Chinese, needs only to reach the quarter-finals to overtake series leader and world number one Lee Chong Wei, who is missing the event to train for August`s world championships.

Olympic champion Lin, a four-time All-England winner, is the only player to achieve the "Golden Grand Slam" by also lifting the world championships, World Cup, Thomas Cup, Sudirman Cup, Asian Games and Asia Championships titles.

But badminton`s answer to Roger Federer has had to watch Lee sweep all three Super Series titles to date after China boycotted the 2008 and 2009 finals. Lin played too few events to make it to last season`s finale.

Lin, 27, who is married to Chinese former world champion Xie Xingfang, lies just 4,160 points behind Lee after winning the Korea Open and narrowly losing to his Malaysian arch-rival in a classic All-England final in March.

The Singapore Open is the fifth leg of the 12-stop series with the top eight men`s and women`s singles players and doubles pairs qualifying for the season-ending tournament in December.

Badminton is in need of some positive headlines after a plan to force women players to wear skirts, intended to attract a bigger audience, drew a barrage of negative publicity before it was eventually shelved.

But several top stars -- including Lin, who complained of a stomach ache -- missed media commitments on Monday, prompting concern from the Badminton World Federation (BWF) and world number five Peter Gade.

"Of course in some cases you can say that the players also need to promote themselves better and the BWF needs to do that in an even more professional level," Gade said.

"I know they`re doing the best we can but still we need to raise the bar in my opinion."

Officials said they would seek explanations after men`s champion Sony Dwi Kuncoro and 2004 Olympic gold-medallist Taufik Hidayat failed to front media, and women`s title-holder Saina Nehwal was an hour late.

Five Chinese players did turn out for journalists, but they sat stony-faced and gave such glib answers that disgruntled media asked whether they disliked giving press conferences.

China`s women`s world number one, Wang Shixian, insisted she had "matured" since last month`s Sudirman Cup, when she was shocked by Germany`s Juliane Schenk.

Wang and her namesakes Wang Yihan and Wang Xin top the women`s seedings, as well as the series standings, and look set to dominate.

Bureau Report

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