Men’s Singles winner, Olah, disappointed by Quadri’s absence
Winner of the Men’s Singles of the ITTF World Tour Premier Lotto Nigeria Open, Finland’s Benedek Olah, has expressed disappointment over the non-appearance of the championship’s top-ranked player, Aruna Quadri, saying the France-based player’s presence would have made it more competitive. Quadri could not make it due to his club’s engagement in France.
The championship, which ended on Sunday, witnessed impressive displays by the stars to the delight of the crowd, who thronged the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, the venue of the championship.
Olah whitewashed eight-seeded Egypt’s Khalid Assar 4-1 7-11, 11-9, 12-10, 11-7, 11-5 in an extraordinary backhand display to secure his first title on the ITTF World. Earlier, The 25-year-old Finnish had accounted for the exit of Africa’s most decorated player, Segun Toriola, 9-11,11-8,11-5,12-10,9-11,11-6 in the semi-finals to the disappointment of the fans, who expected him to fly Nigeria’s flag higher in the absence of Quadri.
In the Women’s Singles, Portugal’s Shao Jieni successfully defended her title by overpowering second-seeded Hungary’s Szandra Pergel, the conqueror of Funke Oshonaike in the semi-final, in 9-11,11-8,11-4,11-6,11-9 to clinch the top prize.
The pair of Russia’s Andrey Bukin and Vasilij Filatov won the Men’s Doubles after outplaying Portugal’s Diogo Carvalho and Diogo Chen in 6-11, 1-11, 11-8, 12-10 to emerge victorious in an evenly balanced game.
In the Women’s Double, the pair of Funke Oshonaike and Cameroun’s Sarah Hanffou was given no chance by the Russians, Irina Ermakova and Olga Kulikova in a no contest match in three straight sets of 11-4, 11-3, 11-3 to win gold medal.
The winners of both the Men’s and Women’s Singles got a cash prize of $5,200, while the runners-up took home $2,600, just as the Doubles champions were rewarded with $2000 and $1000 for the runners up.
Olah, who was ranked third at the Nigeria Open, said he would live to remember his experience at the World Tour in Lagos. “I am glad to have won the game tonight… my backhand proved crucial for me. And the fans gave me a lot to cherish as they really encouraged me with their support, which I will leave to remember. The organisers of the championship were fantastic and I enjoyed every bit of my stay in Nigeria. I definitely hope to be back again,” he said.
The Women’s champion, Jieni, also expressed her happiness that she retained her title, saying, “I feel very happy I retained my title again. Lagos has been a very special place for me; the fans have always been there for all the players. I can say that the final was not that easy but I put a lot of power into my shots and my service was also helpful.”