by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Win a close game and confidence flourishes, it is a well-worn phrase; the fact that Hugo Calderano won the opening two games by the minimal margin undoubtedly added to his self-confidence.
“It was really important to make a good start; the fact I went three-nil ahead was vital. I was aggressive from the start but I knew he would adapt and increase his level of play. He became more positive. At the end of the fifth game I tried to focus on each point and not on the score but of course I knew they were important points.” Hugo Calderano
Success for a Brazilian against a player listed in top spot on the World Rankings; has it ever happened before? Perhaps it might surprise but ut has happened.
In 1958 Ubiraci Rodrigues da Costa, always known as Biriba, he beat Toshiaki Tanaka and Ichiro Ogimura when the two Japanese stars, both winners of the Men’s Singles title at the World Championships, visited São Paulo.
However, those wins need putting into perspective, in reality they were exhibition matches but later at the 1961 World Championships staged in Beijing, in the Men’s Singles event, Biriba beat Rong Guotan, at the time the reigning World champion! I would suggest that equates to the efforts of Hugo Calderano today in Doha.
Undoubtedly the performance of Hugo Calderano shone through; equally Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting was impressive, the no.7 seed, he beat Ukrainian qualifier, Kou Lei in five games (6-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-8, 11-4) but the match of the round was that enacted by Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto in opposition to India’s Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, a player who had been required to compete in the qualification tournament.
At the end of the fifth game, one wondered if an upset was on the cards, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran led three-two; it was at that stage Tomokazu Harimoto turned the screw. He won the next two games in style to secure a quarter-final place (7-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-7, 8-11, 11-1, 11-4).
“It was a question of playing from the heart; I changed my service at the start of the sixth game, more backspin. Certainly it was a very tough match, he was very good blocking the ball.” Tomokazu Harimoto
At the quarter-final stage Tomokazu Harimoto faces Hugo Calderano, Wong Chun Ting opposes China’s Lin Gaoyuan; in the second round of proceedings Lin Gaoyuan received a walk-over against colleague Fang Bo who had to withdraw owing to illness.
The matches will be played on Saturday 10th March.