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Top names turn up for All England

ONE of the best line-ups for years graces the 99th All England badminton championships at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena this week.

The China pro-league, due to start by the end of 2009, could potentially cream off top Chinese players from future Super Series tournaments like the All England. But for the moment the threat remains a specter as eager fans gather for arguably the sport's most venerable tournament. Sunday's finals and the semifinals on Saturday are sell-outs.

China's world and Olympic champion Lin Dan is once again the main attraction in the men's singles ahead of world No. 1 and big rival Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia.

Last year's winner Chen Jin of China, Dane Peter Gade and Indonesia's ex-Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat will also be battling hard to stop Lin capturing a fourth All England title.

In the women's singles, Denmark's world No. 1 Tine Rasmussen defends her title but as ever there is plenty of Chinese opposition, headed by 2008 runner-up Lu Lan.

Tournament director Darren Parks said: "Finals day was just about sold out even before we announced the entry list."

Lin starts his campaign tonight against a qualifier but will likely face a sterner test in the second round against experienced compatriot Bao Chunlai.


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