Ahead of this weekend's ITTF Pan American Cup, where he is top seed in the Men's Singles, I had a chance to do a brief interview with him - my first blog interview since early 2017! Enjoy!
|Hugo Calderano at the 2019 Hungary Open|
Photo Courtesy of ITTFWorld
What main factors do you think have contributed to you breaking into that higher level?
I think it was all about the hard work, believing in myself and of course a lot of help from my coaches.
You relocated to Germany and began playing for TTF Leibherr Ochsenhausen some years ago, how has the league helped you develop as a professional player?
Moving to Germany helped me develop my game and build my body, practicing and playing constantly with strong players.
What do you consider your biggest strengths as a player?
I think my biggest strength is the mental part. That's the most important thing in table tennis in my opinion. Being able to play strong also helps a lot :D
You do a lot of physical training and multiball also, how important is it to mix your types of training up, and what is your favourite training drill to do?
I like to think of practice as a global thing, in which I involve different kinds of sports, activities, and of course, many hours on the table. My favourite exercise is Backhand - Middle - Backhand - Forehand.
Is there a particular moment that stands out for you as a career highlight so far?
Playing the Olympic Games in Rio was simply amazing. There were so many people supporting me and the Brazilian table tennis. It is an experience I will never forget!
How do you feel about the table tennis situation in Brazil? Do you think Rio Olympics helped make the sport more popular?
I think after Rio 2016, and now with our great results, the popularity of table tennis is growing a lot in Brazil. That has always been one of my goals.
What is your next big goal in table tennis?
My next big goals are to get a medal at Tokyo 2020 Olympics and to win the Pan American Games this year. The World Championships in Budapest are also a great opportunity to fight for a medal.
Last year you beat Lin Gaoyuan and Fan Zhendong, do you feel you have reached a level now where competing with the Chinese players is much more possible? What do you think has made that difference for you?
I believe I can beat any player in the world now, but there's still a long way to go. I always believed I could beat the Chinese players, and I'll keep working hard to compete against them in the important tournaments.
Who is the player you have looked up to the most during your table tennis development?
I don't really have an idol, as I see all the players as opponents. But I get inspiration from Shaquille O'Neal in basketball because of the way he dominated the game and his opponents on the court.
Thanks so much for taking the time Hugo and I hope you can continue with this momentum into the top 5!