Brazil’s Calderano lifts first WTT trophy in Doha; Hayata crowned women’s champion
The second edition of the World Table Tennis (WTT) Star Contender Doha came to a successful conclusion at the Lusail Multipurpose Hall in Lusail yesterday, with Brazil’s Hugo Calderano emerging as the first Latin American player to win a WTT trophy.
The World No. 8 produced a stunning 4-2 victory over Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic (11-5, 6-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-3, 11-9) in the Men’s Singles Final to be crowned the champion after a gruelling encounter.
In the Women’s Single’s event, number six seed Hina Hayata of Japan outclassed China’s Doo Hoi Kem, the second seed, 4-1 at the final hurdle (11-6, 11-6, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7) to lift the trophy and the USD83,600 Single’s winner’s cash prize.
Over 160 top players from different parts of the world participated in the USD200,000 total prize purse event, which offers 600 ITTF Table Tennis World Ranking points.
Saturday’s result marks a significant moment for Calderano, who finally converts his promising potential into international success in Doha. Falling to the floor in disbelief after the match, an emotional Calderano leads not only his country but his home continent to new heights with his victory over Jorgic guaranteeing a career-best world ranking of the fifth position on the Men’s Singles ladder.
Seeded second for the event, Calderano made a bright start to the final with a strong opening game display but encountered a major stumbling block soon after. With the final sitting all-square at one game apiece, eighth seed Jorgic remarkably saved three game points in the third game to steal the lead for the first time in the match. Disappointed with the outcome, Calderano dusted himself off and went again, responding by claiming the next three games on the bounce to book his date with destiny.
“I’m feeling great, and I’m so happy to win the title. It was a tough match, both physically and mentally. It probably wasn’t the best level we could play; I think we were both tired from the rest of the tournament, but I was able to push myself and deal with the situation, so I’m very happy with my performance. In the fourth game, I was down 6-3, and I think that was a key moment for me when I recovered as it was very tough for him to come back after I won the game. The main thing is winning the title, of course, but it’s also great to see it showing in the rankings, so I’m just happy and will try and celebrate it as much as I can,” said Hugo Calderano.
Earlier in the day, both Calderano and Jorgic enjoyed impressive semi-final victories, accounting for England’s Liam Pitchford (11-2, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 11-9) and the Republic of Korea’s Lee Sangsu (13-11, 12-14, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 11-2).
Meanwhile, Hayata opened her day in style as she produced a mesmerising comeback win to eliminate the top seed from the Republic of Korea, Jeon Jihee, in the semi-finals (8-11, 9-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-7, 11-5). She followed up with a more decisive victory later in the day, beating Hong Kong, China’s Doo Hoi Kem, the second seed, 4-1 at the final hurdle (11-6, 11-6, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7). Hayata leaves Doha with two titles to her name, having won the Mixed Doubles event alongside compatriot Shunsuke Togami on Friday.
“In the semi-finals, I was 0-3 down against Jeon Jihee. It was very difficult, but I managed to turn it around 4-3. I’m also very happy to beat Doo Hoi Kem as she’s a really good player. I hope this is a good birthday present for my coach!” said Hina Hayata
Japan was also the successful nation in the Women’s Doubles event, with Miyu Nagasaki and Minami Ando combining to perfection. The unseeded pair negotiated a monumental task with flying colours, upstaging the top-seeded partnership from the Republic of Korea, Yang Haeun and Jeon Jihee, by a crushing 3-0 margin (11-8, 11-9, 11-6).
The Men’s Doubles final saw the Republic of Korea’s Cho Seungmin and An Jaehyun face England’s Paul Drinkhall and Liam Pitchford. All four players put on a marvellous show under the lights, two unseeded pairs with nothing to lose in the title decider. Decided across four games, the match unfolded in Cho, and An’s favour (11-7, 4-11, 11-9, 11-4), ensuring the Republic of Korea’s presence amongst the list of title-winning nations Doha.
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