WONG Choong Hann has targeted, at the very least, the semi-finals of the German Open on Feb 27-March 4 in order to boost his chances of qualifying for the World Championships in August.
Choong Hann, currently ranked World No 70, has set the target despite realising that World No 1 Lin Dan of China and his compatriot Chen Yu, ranked World No 7, are the top two seeds in the grand prix tournament.
Lin Dan is using the German Open as a warm-up before launching a bid to win his third All-England title, when the super series event is staged on March 6-11.
However, it is an entirely different scenario for the 30-year-old Choong Hann as a semi-final berth would give him a chance to play in probably his last World Championships in Kuala Lumpur, which will be held in Putra Stadium on Aug 13-19.
Choong Hann is confident of overcoming all the players but Lin Dan as he is a cut above the rest.
"I have to do well in the German Open as Lin Dan and Chen Yu are the only top 10 players around. If I can make the last four or better, my chances of playing in the World Championships will become better," said Choong Hann.
"Im quite confident of beating the other players, including Chen Yu, but playing Lin Dan will be a different challenge. He is very dominant and it takes a special effort to stop him.
"But Im not thinking too much about a match against him as my intention in Germany is to do well.
"I need to gain sufficient points in Germany as my place in the World Championships is at stake. If I miss it, I may not get another chance to play in the major event anymore."
Other recognised players who are seeded in the top eight are third seed Lee Tsuen Seng of Malaysia, fifth seed Ng Wei of Hong Kong, sixth seed Joachim Persson of Denmark, another Malaysian Sairul Amar Ayub, seeded seventh, and eighth seed Bjoern Joppein of Germany.
The task has already been made easier for the unseeded Choong Hann who has gained a straight entry into the main draw.
Should Choong Hann and Lin Dan end up in different halves of the draw, the former has a good chance of making it all the way to the final.
However, Choong Hann will have to play in the qualifying rounds of the All-England and the Swiss Open on March 13-18 as only 28 players gain automatic inclusion into the main draw.
If Choong Hann makes it past the preliminary rounds of both tournaments, he could well be on his way to the World Championships.
Choong Hann is the only Malaysian singles player to have reached the final of the World Championships, which he achieved in 2003, but at 30, respectability is what he will be trying to achieve if he qualifies for the tournament this time.