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Back in action, maintaining tradition, Cazuo Matsumoto defies the odds

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Published in Table Tennis
Tuesday, 10 September 2019 19:05

No current world ranking, he beat the highest rated player is his group, Argentina’s Nicolas Galvano (14-12, 1-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-3), before accounting for the next in the order of merit, Chile’s Nicolas Burgos (11-7, 11-7, 11-4).

One more match in the group remains, whatever happens, he is guaranteed first place and progress to the main draw; that is unless he misses the bus to the venue!

He now confronts the host nation’s Mattias Ferreira, a player who did not enjoy the best of fortunes on the initial day of action. He lost to by exactly the same margins to Nicolas Burgos (11-7, 11-7, 11-4) and Nicolas Galvano (11-7, 11-7, 11-4). Nicolas Burgos and Nicolas Galvano now meet to decide second place in the group, the winner will advance to the preliminary round.

Extensive experience

Upsets, that is a matter of opinion; I would suggest not. Cazuo Matsumoto is a player of high pedigree and now 34 years old one of great experience.

He was a member of the Brazilian team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games but since then has not dipped his toes in international waters; he lined up alongside Hugo Calderano and Gustavo Tsuboi.

Notably, he played in the first ever World Junior Championships in Santiago in 2003 but more significantly he was on duty at the Men’s World Cup in Moscow in 2009 and more recently in 2014 in Düsseldorf.

First ever

Furthermore, in 2009 the first ever Intercontinental Cup was staged, one representative from each of Africa, Latin America, North America and Oceania being involved. Played on a group format, Cazuo Matsumoto emerged unbeaten to secure the one remaining available place in the Men’s World Cup. Second place finished in the hands of a certain Nigerian named Quadri Aruna.

An appearance in the first ever World Junior Championships, the first ever winner of the ITTF Continental Cup; also he became the first ever Latin American to win a men’s singles title on the ITTF World Tour. He beat Hugo Calderano by some four months! In 2013 he won in the Spanish southern city of Almeria overcoming Frenchman Christophe Legout in the final; later in the year on home soil, Hugo Calderano succeed in Santos.

Character

Furthermore, never count out Cazuo Matsumoto, he is a stoic character, unflappable; nowhere was that greater illustrated than in 2006 on the ITTF World Tour in the Russian city of Moscow.

Playing in his last ever under 21 men’s singles event, in the final he lost the first three games against Emmanuel Lebesson of France, before recovering to win the next four; the quiet comment “maybe I was just a little more experienced” still rings in my ears.

It was a reserved celebration, in some ways apologetically; it’s as though, he looks at his opponent and asks the question without speaking, how could you lose to someone who plays like me?

Last of the Mohicans

Cazuo Matsumoto is the last of the Mohicans; his style once so popular is now resigned to the annals of history.

He is a left handed pen-holder who uses just one side of the racket, service and first attack, receive of service with a deft touch or a forehand flick are the hallmarks of his play. Rapid fire footwork is not his forte, playing smart and being different is his strength. Unless your name is Ma Long or a player of that ilk, it is very difficult to establish a rhythm again him; always you must be on your guard.

A good day for Cazuo Matsumoto and to add icing to the cake, a good day for his girlfriend, in her one and only match of the day, Jessica Yamada beat Chile’s Natasha Rio (11-3, 11-2, 11-2).

Love all, start again tomorrow.

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