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Lin Dan returns to All England after 3-year absence as favorite

(Agencies) Updated: 2015-03-04 08:58

Lin Dan returns to All England after 3-year absence as favorite

China's Lin Dan reacts after wining his men's singles semi-final badminton match against Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei in Gyeyang Gymnasium at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, September 28, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

BIRMINGHAM - Lin Dan can rest for as long as he likes, it doesn't matter. He's the favorite in whatever he enters, including the All England Open this week.

The multiple winner of all of badminton's greatest prizes, Lin will be at the National Indoor Arena for the first time since 2012, when the Chinese superstar captured his fifth All England title.

When he won his fifth world championship in 2013, beating current No. 1 Chen Long in the quarterfinals and great rival Lee Chong Wei in the final, Lin had played only one tournament in a year. He didn't reappear for another eight months, and went out and won the China Masters without dropping a set, and the Asia Championships a week later.

Back on the road building up to win a third successive Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro next year, Lin has few opponents to fear, especially with Chong Wei sidelined.

"He's not only my opponent, but also my good friend," Lin said of his rival. "I'm hopeful he will make a swift comeback."

Chong Wei has been suspended since November after a positive doping test at the world champs in August. The Malaysian, loser to Lin in the last two Olympic finals, claims he can't understand why stem cell treatment in July for a thigh injury was still in his system a month later. He awaits a hearing with the Badminton World Federation, and has said if he receives the standard two-year doping ban, he will retire.

Chong Wei's omission means Malaysia is likely to be without a player in the men's singles draw for the first time since 1970.

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