Reaching a career-best No 5 in the world rankings will be a shot in the arm for high-flying Hu Yun as he spearheads Hong Kong's challenge at the forthcoming Sudirman Cup.
The 31-year-old former mainlander has enjoyed the most successful stint of his career in the past year, reaching two Super Series semi-finals and the final of a third - the China Masters. His ranking surged from outside the world's top 20 a year ago to fifth in the latest listing after securing a semi-final berth in the Swiss Open last month.
Hong Kong have been drawn against Thailand and South Korea in group 1C of the world mixed team championships to be held in Kuala Lumpur from May 19-26 and head coach Tim He Yiming admitted it would be no easy task to advance to the knockout stage as one of the top two in the group. There are 12 teams in group 1 - the top-tier competition - which is divided into four pools (A, B, C and D) before the quarter-final stage.
"The three teams are very close and it will require some exceptional performances to reach the next stage," said He. "Hu has been in fine form as his results show, but the men's singles is always competitive."
The coach also disclosed Hong Kong's No 2 singles player, Wong Wing-ki, now 17th in the world, had attracted attention in Indonesia, where his father is from. "They have offered some very good conditions for Wong to join the Indonesian team and even promised to help his father set up a restaurant in Indonesia," said He. "But the player was not moved as he is born here and enjoys playing for Hong Kong."
Top seeds China are in group 1A with Indonesia and India, while Malaysia are in group 1C with Germany and Taiwan. Japan, Denmark and Singapore are in group 1D.