(by Steve Hopkins)
Hugo Calderano has had a perfect start to 2023 – two WTT events and two wins. In defense of his competition, Calderano has been the top seed in both events – but in Durban last week and Doha this week, the draw was packed with dangerous players in the Top 50 and Calderano is undefeated across both tournaments.
This week, in the WTT Contender Doha, Calderano topped Puerto Rico’s Angel Naranjo in the Round of 32, then had a tight 3-2 win over Robert Gardos in the Round of 16, defeated Yuan Licen in the Quarterfinals, had to win the final two games for a comeback victory over Xiang Peng in the Semifinals, and then dominated Jang Woojin in the Final 4-1. Elsewhere in the event, Marcos Freitas logged a nice upset over second seeded Quadri Aruna – but then fell to rising Chinese player Lin Shidong in the Quarters.
Last week, German players were the top seeds in the Women’s event and younger Chinese players managed to push their way past the higher seeds to dominant the leaderboard. The script this week is very similar – with Nina Mittelham entering as the highest seed, but falling early. Similarly Jia Nan Yuan of France was the second seed, and she fell (to Choi Hyojoo) in the Round of 16. Five Chinese players made it through to the Final 8 – and they were joined by Cheng I-Ching of Taipei, Manika Batra of India, and Choi Hyojoo of Korea. The Semifinals were Liu Weishan (China) versus Fan Siqi (China), and Zhang Rui (China) versus Manika Batra (India). Fan and Zhang reached the Final, with Zhang jumping out to a 2-0 lead, but Fan Siqi coming from behind to win 4-3.
The next Doha event starts tomorrow – the WTT Feeder Doha. The top seed will be Omar Assar of Egypt (World No. 24).
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