Brazil’s Hugo Calderano and Canada’s Zhang Mo has booked their tickets to prestigious Liebherr 2018 ITTF Men’s World Cup & Uncle Pop 2018 ITTF Women’s World Cup later this year, after claiming Gold at the 2018 ITTF Pan American Cup in Asuncion, Paraguay.
The women’s event saw Zhang faced off with USA’s Wu Yue in a battle of the North Americans. WU made her intentions clear by winning the first game 11-8. However, Zhang had other ideas, storming back to win the next 4 games and 4-1 (8-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-5, 13-11) overall. Her win meant that she managed to go one better than her second place finish in 2017, securing her spot at the Uncle Pop 2018 ITTF Women’s World Cup in Chengdu.
With one ticket booked, attention was shifted over to the other where an all Brazilian affair between Hugo Calderano and Gustavo Tsuboi awaited.
The match did not disappoint as we saw both players put on a masterclass in a closely fought final. They took turns to take the lead, with the score at 1-0 to Calderano before a determined Tsuboi fought back to 2-1. However, the 11th player in the world reminded us of his quality, closing out the match to win 4-2 (11-9, 8-11, 10-12, 11-6, 11-7, 15-13). The crowd was on their feet to celebrate their Champion.
After securing the golden ticket to make his second ITTF World Cup appearance, a visibly happy Calderano stated, “I’m glad to play in Latin America, it was very cool to play in Paraguay. I want to congratulate Gustavo also because he played at a high level. It was an incredible match and I’m very happy to have qualified for the World Cup”.
While the champions were automatically guaranteed a spot at the World Cups, the 2018 Pan America Cup was slightly different than the other continental cups. The event boasts both Latin American & North American players and as such, the player with the best result for their respective continents qualifies for the World Cup, making it 4 golden tickets instead of 2.
This meant that Brazil’s Bruna Takahashi and USA’s Kanak Jha, who came in third in the women’s and men’s event, will also be heading to the World Cups later in the year as the top finishers of Latin America and North America respectively.
The 2018 Pan American cup rounds up qualification for the prestigious ITTF Men’s and Women’s World cup. Zhang, Calderano, Takahashi and Jha will now eagerly anticipate their battle with other continental champions:
• Liebherr 2018 ITTF Men’s World Cup: 19-21 Oct 2018, Paris (FRA)
• Uncle Pop 2018 ITTF Women’s World Cup: 28-30 Sep 2018, Chengdu (CHN)
The ITTF World Cups are the second most prestigious events on the international table tennis calendar, where only 17 of the top table tennis players who have qualified through their respective Continental Cups, together with the current World Champions, one host player and a wildcard, can compete for the prestigious title that counts towards the Grand Slam Title (Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cup).
• World Champions: Ma Long (CHN), Ding Ning (CHN)
• China Construction Bank 2018 ITTF-European Top 16 Cup: Timo Boll (GER), Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER), Jonathan Groth (DEN)
• 2018 ITTF-African Top 16 Cup: Omar Assar (EGY), Dina Meshref (EGY)
• Lion 2018 ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup: Fan Zhendong (CHN), Lee Sangsu (KOR), Jeong Sangeun (KOR), Zhu Yuling (CHN), Kasumi Ishikawa (JPN), Cheng I-Ching (TPE)
• 2018 ITTF-Oceania Cup: Hu Heming (AUS), Lay Jian Fang (AUS)
• 2018 ITTF-Pan America Cup: Zhang Mo (CAN), Hugo Calderano (BRA), Bruna Takahashi (BRA), Kanak Jha (USA)