Tournament’s number one seed, Aruna Quadri of Nigeria, wriggled himself out of an early shock exit in the second round of the championship on Friday, which loomed over him as he rallied from behind to beat Belgian teenager, Devos Lauren, 4-3 in the men’s singles of the 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Nigeria Open.
Quadri, who marked his 31st birthday – and what an awful birthday present that would have been for Africa’s best rated player – was trailing the Belgian at 2-0 (2-7) in the third set but he managed to nick a game back to put the encounter at 1-2.
However, the teenage Belgian increased the lead with another win in the fourth game to stretch his hold on the encounter to 3-1.
But a determined Quadri – no doubt inspired by the home fan support – recovered to level up at 3-3.
The tide had turned! In the seventh game, the Nigerian star put the encounter beyond his European adversary – and threw the fans into wild jubilations.
Nevertheless, table tennis buffs who saw the match were unanimous in concluding that if the way this encounter panned out is anything to go by, Quadri would need to up the ante if he is to defend his men’s singles title at this meet.
Up next for the Nigerian in the round of 16 encounter is a familiar foe in Egypt’s Mohamed El-Beiali.
If Quadri escaped an early shock exit, African legend of the sport, the veteran Segun Toriola, and Bode Abiodun were not so lucky as they were edged out in the round of 32.
Olufunke Oshonaike is the only surviving Nigerian in the women’s singles.
She faces a Herculean on Saturday as she plays against the number one seed, Slovakia’s Barbora Balazova.