Lin Dan of China reaches for a return against Peter Hoeg Gade of Denmark in the men's singles semifinals of the Singapore Open badminton tournament on June 18. Roslan Rahman / Agence France-Presse
With the World Badminton Championships, the most prestigious tournament on the sport's calendar, starting on Monday, the world's leading shuttlers are preparing with extra motivation as this year's event will be held at the Wembley Arena Indoor Stadium in London, which will also be the venue for next year's Olympic competition.
However, Lin Dan, the game's biggest star in China and possibly the world, is laidback about the upcoming tournament after so many years of playing on the world stage and his main concern appears to be what to wear in London.
"I am leaving for London tomorrow, what casual wear should I take a shirt or something else? Dear fans, please give me some ideas," Lin posted on his microblog on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old, who is already the most crowned men's singles player at the worlds, having won three times in a row, is favored to win the title, and, improve his brilliant resume despite having performed inconsistently this year. He was upset by South Korean Park Sung-hwan in the quarterfinals last year in Paris, where China swept all five titles.
Lin, also known as "Super Dan", will also equal the record of retired teammate Gao Ling, who has won 15 major women's and mixed doubles' titles in her career, if he emerges victorious in London.
But he has already set his sights on the Olympics.
"We are one year from the London Olympics. How time flies. But it is OK. There is still one year for me to work hard," he said in a previous post.
Undoubtedly, the greatest threat to Lin's title hopes will be Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, who has won six tournaments this year, including the All-England Open, where he defeated the Chinese in the final of their most recent clash.
Lee, a long-time world No 1 without a major title at the worlds or Olympics, played down the hype of a highly anticipated final between the two, which would also be their first encounter at the worlds.
"We have played in many finals before. As the top two seeds, it would be no surprise if we met in the final again," said Lee, who arrived in London on Tuesday.
"However, the tournament has not started yet. It is too early to talk about the match between Lin and me. Also, I have never played in the final of the worlds, so let's talk about it when I reach the final," said the 28-year-old.
Other strong competitors include China's defending champion Chen Jin, and Indonesia's world and Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat.
On the women's side, the Chinese team appears to be struggling as other nations are emerging, which should make the competition quite open this time after China triumphed at the past seven editions.
Having winning records against all the top Chinese players over the past year, India's Saina Nehwal is considered the biggest threat to the defending champions.
"The Chinese players are really very strong and there are several of them. But I have got used to playing against them. I've been playing against them for the past four years so I know their games," Nehwal told China Daily during the Sudirman Cup.
"When I give my best, I always have the feeling that I can beat everyone. I want to play well at the World Championships first and gain confidence for the London Olympics."
As for the doubles, China's Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng are expected to win the men's event three times in a row and their fourth title in total, which would both be record-breaking feats.
China's Ma Jin and Wang Xiaoli are fancied to win the women's doubles, while Liliyana Natsir and Tontowi Ahmad of Indonesia are favorites in the mixed doubles.