World’s elite heads to Sydney

A huge draw-card is world number two Lin Dan, the defending champion and arguably the world's most popular player.

Dan is a two-time Olympic and five-time World Champion and a large part of the media contingent present as well as spectators who have bought tickets have come especially to see him in action.

For the 32-year-old Dan, the sport is all he knows, having competed on the international scene for almost half his life.

"I'm so lucky to have represented China for almost 15 years now, so lucky," he said ahead of the start of the event. 

"And I would like to keep going for a few years yet because I'm so passionate about playing." 

The defending champion in the ladies draw, world number one Saina Nehwal, is one of the most recognised sports personalities in India, where she features in a host of advertisements.

In 2012, after winning the bronze medal at the Olympic Games, she was given a BMW and was presented with the keys by none other than cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar.

"It's good to see that people follow me a lot now after so many wins," Nehwal said. 

"It's quite surprising when others outside cricket get that kind of fame, and I'm the one lucky person getting a lot of endorsements out there."