Aruna Quadri thrills table tennis fans at Bulgaria Open
What Aruna Quadri could not achieve in Lagos was made possible at the ITTF World Tour, tagged Bulgaria Open, as the Nigerian became the star attraction in the men’s singles, where he finished in the top four at the federation’s second most prestigious tournament at the weekend.
After his disappointing round of 16 defeat in the hand of compatriot, Bode Abiodun at the Nigeria Open 10 days ago, Quadri was considered as one of the best performers at the Bulgaria Open when his semifinal tie against world number four, Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov was described as one of table tennis classics.
Having fought his way to the semifinal as the first African to achieve such feat, Quadri showed his class against the German number one with the out-of-this-world display that has been touted of the best matches in table tennis this year.
In the report written on the encounter by ITTF Publication Director, Ian Marshall, the battle between the two continental champions was tagged clash of backhand and forehand.
“Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the owner of one of the most effective backhands of the modern era, Quadri Aruna with his expansive forehand; add the two together and the equation resulted in spectacular rallies that delighted the appreciative crowd. Controlling the play, Dimitrij Ovtcharov secured the opening game; Quadri Aruna replied to win a close second but did not immediately capitalise on the success.
“Dimitrij Ovtcharov established a 5-1 lead in the third game but chasing every ball, burning holes in his shoes, Quadri Aruna won the next four points to level matters. He went ahead 7-6 prompting Dimitrij Ovtcharov to call “Time Out”, the advantage worked but not in favour of the German. At 10-7 Quadri Aruna held three games points, the first was saved but not the second; Quadri Aruna led by two games to one. An injection of confidence, buzzing, Quadri Aruna sped into an 8-4 lead in the fourth. Dimitrij Ovtcharov reduced the arrears to one point at 8-7; now Quadri Aruna called “Time Out”. Once again the pause worked in his favour.
He surrendered just one more point; a three games to one lead was established.”
“Facing defeat, Dimitrij Ovtcharov responded, controlling the play as in the first game, the backhand top spin ever more fearsome, the German won the fifth game in style. In the sixth he raced into an 8-3 lead; Quadri Aruna reduced the deficit to one point at 8-7 and 9-8, the stage at which, following his service he was presented with a golden opportunity. A forehand top spin to follow the service, designed to win the point outright, flew long. Dimitrij Ovtcharov had a lifeline; he seized the opportunity, a deciding seventh game beckoned.
Now the momentum was very much in favour of Dimitrij Ovtcharov. He won the first four points of the decider, changed ends ahead 5-3, before extending the advantage to 7-3 and at 10-6, four match points. At the first attempt the chance was taken; a place in an ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles final was claimed for the 14th time in his career,” Marshall wrote.
It was the German that eventually won the tournament after beating Japan’s Kenta Matsudaira 4-1 in the final.
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