Veteran Hu Yun has his eye on breaking into the world's top 10 after becoming the first Hong Kong badminton player to reach a men's singles final in a Super Series tournament.
The former China national team member will take on top seed Chen Long of China in today's US$400,000 Li Ning China Masters final in Changzhou, 160 kilometres west of Shanghai.
Hu, who moved to Hong Kong in 2006 chasing better playing opportunities, overcame Ajay Jayaram of India 21-16, 21-18 in yesterday's semi-finals.
"I never expected to reach the final here," said Hu, 32, currently ranked 21st in the world.
"This is the biggest boost I have had to my career since I first played for Hong Kong in 2008," the 1.8-metre shuttler said.
Hu's career-high ranking is 12, achieved in December 2010, and he said his chief target now was a place in the top 10, with next year's National Games and the 2014 Asian Games his long-term goals.
Hu became a member of the China national team in 1999, two years earlier than double Olympic champion Lin Dan.
But after six years without a major success, he chose to move to Hong Kong in 2006 and two years later, he made his Hong Kong team debut.
Coach Liu Zhiheng was full of praise for the unseeded Hu.
"Hu deserves all the credit for an exceptional tournament. It's not easy making the final of a Super Series event, and he has now become the first from Hong Kong to do so."
Hu's opponent in today's final, Chen, got a walkover win over compatriot Du Pengyu, the fourth seed, in his semi-final.
"This is not the first time it has happened that when two mainlanders are scheduled to play one another one of them pulls out before the match," Liu said.
"We won't question the reasons for this, but against a better opponent in the final, Hu has nothing to lose."