Tournaments

05 Mar 2019

93 years on from the first edition of the World Table Tennis Championships and the Latin American continent still searches for its first Men's Singles medal at the event.

With the Liebherr 2019 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships just around the corner, one man who is looking to bring the long wait for a spot on the podium to a close is Brazil’s Hugo Calderano.

by Simon Daish

Local to the seaside city of Rio de Janeiro Hugo Calderano has grown into the leading name of Brazilian table tennis and is notably one of a few top players representing the country at the highest level not of Japanese decent.

Toppling some of the biggest names the sport has to offer and taking the Latin American continent to new heights, Hugo Calderano’s journey makes for a fascinating read.

Making his name known from an early age Calderano took home his first ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles title at the age of 17 when he beat fellow compatriot Gustavo Tsuboi to Brazil Open gold in 2013.

Three years later Calderano collected two significant trophies with title winning displays at the 2016 Latin American Championships and 2016 Latin American Cup – timely successes especially with the Olympic Games coming to Brazil later in the year.

With the backing of the home crowd at the Riocentro Pavilion 3, Calderano negotiated three rounds of Men’s Singles action at Rio 2016, delighting spectators on his way to a last 16 finish. An inspirational performance on home soil and since then the good news has continued to flow in.

Hugo Calderano pictured at Rio 2016 (Photo: Rémy Gros)

Competing at the 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf the Brazilian was the sole player from the Americas to reach the last 32 of the Men’s Singles draw before exiting to the master of pen-hold himself, Xu Xin.

Plenty of water has passed under the bridge since then and Calderano has shown significant progress in his game, claiming a number of big-name upsets last year in particular.

Arguably Calderano’s most impressive outing came at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open in Doha where he defeated Lim Jonghoon, Timo Boll, Tomokazu Harimoto and Lin Gaoyuan on his way to a silver medal finish in the Men’s Singles event.

At the backend of last year the Brazilian player once again outperformed expectations with a spot in the semi-finals of the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Incheon following successful outings against Yuya Oshima and Fan Zhendong.

Present at the first ITTF World Tour event of 2019 Calderano made a bright start to his Hungarian Open campaign, claiming back-to-back victories over Chen Chien-An and Kristian Karlsson before missing out to eventual runner-up Wang Chuqin at the quarter-finals stage of the tournament.

Just a couple of weeks later Calderano picked up his first silverware of the year, defeating USA’s Kanak Jha at the final hurdle of the Universal 2019 ITTF Pan America Cup competition in Guaynabo.

Hugo Calderano is a top class athlete who has emerged victorious over some of the sport’s biggest star and set a record last November by becoming the first Latin American to gain a spot in the top 10 of the world rankings, a position he still holds to this very day.

How far can Calderano go in Budapest? Assuming he stays injury free an improvement on his Round of 32 finish from two years ago seems very much on the cards. But, if he produces his best table tennis on the day then he’s capable of achieving anything.

Watch Hugo Calderano live in Budapest by purchasing your tickets for the Liebherr 2019 World Championships now:

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Day 8 - 2019 World Table Tennis Championships

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