World No. 1 Chen wants crowning glory of beating Lin in Olympic final
Chen wants to claim mantle of badminton's best by beating compatriot at the Olympics
No one in the world has been able to consistently handle Lin Dan.
The 32-year-old Chinese superstar has already reached legendary status in badminton.
He has won two Olympic singles gold medals, five World Championships, six All-England crowns, two World Cups, four Asian Championships, two Asian Games golds and tasted success in one Superseries Masters Final.
The much-vaunted Chinese production line has unearthed the likes of Bao Chunlai, Du Pengyu and Xia Xuanze, but all have been put in their place by Lin.
But empires eventually fall, and Lin's compatriot, world No. 1 Chen Long, is eyeing the mantle.
He has faced Lin nine times and lost on seven occasions, but Chen has won their two most recent encounters - a 21-13, 21-12 rout in the All-England Open semi-finals and a 20-22, 21-13, 21-11 win at the Malaysia Open final last year.
Ahead of the OUE Singapore Open at the Indoor Stadium from April 12 to 17, Chen has set himself what is probably the biggest challenge of his playing career.
In an exclusive interview with The New Paper, the 27-year-old Hubei native said: "I want to prove myself to the world by beating Lin Dan in the final to win my first Olympic men's singles gold.
"Lin Dan debuted early and started winning early. In terms of maintaining his win rate at major tournaments, there will probably be no one like him.
"For me, as long as I achieve what I set out to win in my career, that would suffice.
"As long as I perform to the best of my abilities, I will have no regrets."
Four years ago, his first Olympics was a decent one.
He lost to Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei in the semi-finals in London, but recovered to beat South Korea's Lee Hyun Il to claim the bronze.
Lin, meanwhile, grabbed the gold.
Since then, Chen has added new elements to his game.
With his 1.87m frame, he used to rely heavily on mid-court containment with his long reach.
Now, he takes the initiative more, switching fluently between attack and defence.
It has paid off handsomely.
Out of 26 career titles, seven came last year - matching Lin's haul in 2006, 2007 and 2011.
He lifted the prestigious All-England Open title and the World Championship for the second time in his career and became the first man to amass more than 100,000 world ranking points.
In an earlier interview with Chinese media, China's head coach Li Yongbo had stated that this is the Chen Long era.
A win over Lin Dan here next week and in the Olympics will prove him right.
"I have learned to deal with pressure and relax. I don't think about being a champion, I just put my heart into the game I love," said Chen.
"I want to keep improving and be more all-rounded, not just relying on one or two styles to win points.
"Only I will know which is best for me, so I'm going to tailor my tactics according to my strengths.
"My aim is to experiment with and master every style there is and use them all.
"Having lost in the second round in 2011 and 2015, I would like to do a lot better in Singapore.
"Like every tournament, I take the Singapore Open very seriously as I want to break the 100,000-point mark in the world rankings again."
OUE S'pore Open details
The US$350,000 ($501,230) OUE Singapore Open will be held at the Indoor Stadium from April 12 to 17. This is the final Superseries tournament for players to earn qualifying points for August's Rio Olympics.
World No. 1 Chen Long and Olympic champion Lin Dan will lead a 31-strong Chinese contingent here. National shuttlers like 2012 Olympian and 2014 Commonwealth Games men's singles silver medallist Derek Wong, 2015 SEA Games men's singles silver medallist Loh Kean Yew and mixed doubles pair Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Vanessa Neo will also be in action.
More than 70 per cent of the tickets for the public have already been sold. Tickets for adults range from $20 to $60, while tickets for children Under-12 start from $5. Tickets can be purchased at www.sportshub.com.sg/sportshubtix.