Rising Chinese star Niu Jianfeng declared herself 'fit and ready' to do battle once again in the US$85,000 Volkswagen Women's World Cup starting today in Hong Kong - just three days after lifting her biggest career title in Guangzhou. The 22-year-old mainlander finally stepped out of the shadow of her more illustrious compatriots by beating world and Olympic champion Wang Nan and then world number one and World Cup titleholder Zhang Yining in the title-clinching match of the ITTF Pro Tour finals on Sunday. It was the sort of performance that showed Niu had truly come of age as a world class player. And not only did she win the singles in Guangzhou, she also took home the doubles title, partnering 16-year-old Guo Yue to beat Wang and Zhang in a seven-set thriller. Now, Niu will be hoping to make it back-to-back titles by starting as favourite in the 16-field singles tournament that features four continental champions at Queen Elizabeth Stadium. 'I know it is a bit of an unusual role for me to be one of the favourites but I am ready to do my best. I really didn't expect to win in Guangzhou. I am still living in a dream because I beat both Wang Nan and Zhang Yining on the way to the title,' said Niu. 'Wang and Zhang are both like sisters to me because we are close and I get to learn a lot from them. But to beat them in a major tournament like the ITTF Pro Tour finals was a major boost. It has instilled confidence in me.' Niu, who is the Asian champion after winning the singles title at the Asian Championships in Bangkok last year, said winning in Guangzhou may prove the turning point of her career. 'It was certainly the most important title for me. I wasn't confident before. While facing Zhang Yining, whom I had never beaten in the past 12 months, I felt calm and didn't think too much about the result. I just wanted to play my best.' 'I was just hoping to improve my skills against Zhang, not knowing that I would win. I admit Zhang is technically stronger than me, although I won the final.' With first-prize money of US$28,000, world number three Niu has the incentive to do well in Hong Kong, although Zhang said the depth of the tournament would make it hard for Niu to win again. 'There are a lot of good players and she would have to be at her best again. We only had a few days' rest so it will be hard for any of us to win this event. I am hoping to do better this time, although I suspect the mainland players are likely to fight it out for the title,' said Zhang. Hong Kong players are also expected to do well, with both Tie Yana and Lau Sui-fei favoured to reach the quarter-finals at least. Tie said: 'I finished third in Singapore last time. This event is in Hong Kong and I hope the crowd will be backing me. The draw is very strong and I am not confident about my chances. I am drawn in the same pool as Singapore's Li Jiawei and she has been getting the better of me in recent matches.' The tournament also features European champion Badescu Otilia of Romania, Latin American champion Ramos Fabiola of Venezuela and North American champion Chris Xu, a former mainland player now representing Canada. Players have been drawn into four groups with the top two from each round-robin section advancing to the quarter-finals tomorrow. Group A: Zhang Yining (China), Lau Sui-fei (Hong Kong), Badescu Otilia (Romania), Ramos Fabiola (Venezuela). Group B: Wang Nan (China), Boros Tamara (Croatia), Gao Jun (US), Chris Xu (Canada). Group C: Niu Jianfeng (China), Kim Kyung-ah (South Korea), Umemura Aya (Japan), Oshonaike Funke (Nigeria). Group D: Tie Yana (Hong Kong), Li Jiawei (Singapore), Steff Mihaela (Romania), Lay Jianfang (Australia).