Wong Wing-ki sets sights on badminton's top 10
Hong Kong star is upbeat about his chances of breaking the barrier at world titles event
High-flying Wong Wing-ki is confident of entering the top 10 with the world championships in Guangzhou next month providing the perfect stage.
Wong, 23, has reached a career high of number 12 after a series of outstanding performances, including a silver medal at this month's US Open, a grand prix gold-level tournament.
"If I can reach the quarter-finals in Guangzhou, I have a good chance of becoming a top 10 player," said Wong, who represented Hong Kong at the London Olympics last summer.
"Even if I fail, there are six super-series tournaments in the rest of the year and I am confident of making it. Indeed, I would think a top-eight position is also possible before the end of the year if I can maintain a consistent standard."
Wong started the year in fine fashion, winning a bronze medal at the Korea Open after clashing with world number one Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia in the semi-finals. But Wong then found it difficult to hold form.
"The Korea Open is a big tournament with lucrative prize money and the result gave me a strong boost," he said. "But competition at the top is always stiff and mentally I am not focused enough. Sometimes I lack confidence, especially against higher-ranking players."
Wong is expected to meet seasoned campaigners Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam and Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand if he reaches the last eight in Guangzhou.
"My on-court speed and attacking power have helped me a lot, but I still need to strengthen my mental state if I want to go further. The Asian fellows are quality players and you need to be at your best in order to beat them," he said.
Hong Kong number one Hu Yun, meanwhile, is struggling with a back injury sustained in the Sudirman Cup in Kuala Lumpur in May.
"I could not train normally after returning from the cup, which has hampered my performance over the past two months," Hu said. "But now the injury seems better and I keep my fingers crossed with the championships starting in 10 days."
Hong Kong have qualified in all five disciplines for the titles. Yip Pui-yin returns to Guangzhou where she won a singles bronze medal at the 2010 Asian Games, while Chau Hoi-wah and Lee Chun-hei will compete in the mixed doubles after winning at the US and Canada opens.