China to use Aus Open as Olympic tune-up

China’s world number one Chen Long and third-ranked Lin Dan will use next month’s Australian Open as their final preparations for August’s Rio Olympics.

Both shuttlers have been in decent form of late, with Chen losing in the final of the Asia Championships in Wuhan to Lee Chong Wei and Lin reached the semi-finals, where he also lost to the Malaysian ace.

The event in Sydney is starting on June 7 and is expected to have a strong field, since other countries will in all likelihood also be using the tournament as a final tune-up ahead of the Rio de Janeiro showpiece.

All the Chinese shuttlers in the top 10 will be playing in Sydney, including reigning women’s singles Olympic champion Li Xuerui, who won the Asia Championships last week, and mixed doubles world champions Zhao Yunlei and Zhang Nan. The current world number one women’s doubles pair of Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahasi will also be in Sydney.

In an interview with reporters in Sydney, tournament director Loke Poh Wong confirmed the strong field, adding that many players not going to Rio considered the Australian Open like their Olympics.

“For those who are not able to get to the Olympics, (the) Australian Open is basically the Olympics,” said Loke.

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