July 22 - Arguably the greatest player of all-time, China's Lin Dan, and Malaysia's current world number one Lee Chong Wei have been kept on separate sides of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Championships draw, leaving the door open for a mouth-watering final clash between the 2012 Olympic men's singles finalists.
Lin has only competed once since his gold-medal winning performances at London 2012 - at the Badminton Asia Championships where he withdrew at the third round stage with injury - but he was handed a wild card for this year's tournament and will compete in his home country in the city of Guangzhou, where today's draw was made, searching for his fifth World Championships gold medal.
Current world number one Lee, who has taken four gold medals and one silver from Super Series events this year, was furious to learn of his rivals inclusion to the World Championships when the news broke back in May.
"A player can stay away for eight months and still be considered for the World Championships," said a clearly agitated Lee upon hearing the news that Lin would compete in Guangzhou.
"What about the others who have worked hard to qualify for the event?
"He is one of the players who has conceded walkovers and turned his back on BWF tournaments many times, yet he is rewarded with a wild card.
"I do not know what to say about BWF's rules and regulations any more.
"Rather than qualifying, I should have waited for a wild card too."
These comments have further stoked a fierce rivalry that has captivated badminton fans worldwide, but Lee has certainly been the worse off of the two in their previous encounters, losing to Lin in two Olympic finals, a World Championships final and an Asian Games final in recent years.
Chinese media joked that Lee has a "phobia of Lin Dan" after he was forced to settle for Olympic silver once again last year, but the Malaysian star has insisted that this is not the case.
"Initially, I did not want to say anything because people will assume that I fear him," he said.
"No, this is not the reason.
"I do not mind if he qualifies as anyone else does.
"I am sure everyone wants to see both of us play and yes, that will be good for the sport.
"But I do not agree with the way it is being done right now."
Both players will be tasked with numerous potential banana skins en route to the final, however, with Lee facing the possibility of having to get past Chinese world number 14 Wang Zhengming in the third round and world number three Du Pengyu in the semi-finals, and Lin potentially coming up against his team-mate, world number two and reigning All England Open champion Chen Long, in the quarter-finals.
In the women's singles, world number one and Olympic champion Li Xuerui of China faces the prospect of a third round tie against world number nine Lindaweni Fanetri of Indonesia, whilst reigning champion and world number two Wang Yihan could also encounter tough opposition in the same round, where a draw against world number 10 PV Sindhu of India awaits.
The men's doubles pairing of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan have gained momentum at just the right time, winning the last two Super Series events in Indonesia and Singapore, and the world number six pairing will be the ones to watch going into the World Championships, though top seeds Lee Yong Dae and Ko Sung Hyun of South Korea will certainly be looking for revenge after losing to the Indonesian pair in three finals this year.
China's stranglehold on the women's doubles crown, which has been broken just once in the last thirty years, with top seeds and defending champions Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli likely to go far, with their main competition coming from team-mates and Olympic champions Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei, who will be in the other side of the draw.
In the mixed doubles, Indonesian pair Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir have been in strong form this year with three Super Series title wins out of four, though they will face stiff Chinese competition from the likes of top seeds Xu Chen and Ma Jin and defending champions Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei.
The BWF World Championships are due to take place from August 5 to August 11 at the Tianhe Indoor Gymnasium in Guangzhou.
To see the full draw click here.
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