Reigning African table tennis champion, Quadri Aruna, will on Thursday battle teenage Japanese star Tomikazu Harimoto in the round of 16 of the men’s singles at the 2023 WTT Singapore Smash, The PUNCH reports.
Quadri fought from a set down to beat French teenager Alexis Lebrun 3-2 in a keenly contested game that lasted 38 minutes 48 seconds at the Singapore Sports Hub’s OCBC Arena on Tuesday.
The 33-year-old Nigerian lost 11-8 in the first set but fought back in the second set to draw level winning 11-8.
He took the lead in the third set, outclassing Lebrun 11-5, but the French star restored parity at 2-2 in the fourth game as he beat Quadri 11-7.
Quadri, however, clinched a spot in the round of 16 after he won the decisive set 11-7.
The Nigerian, who is yet to record any win against Harimoto, after losing twice against him, hopes to end his winless run against the Japanese.
“It was a very good comeback win for me and I want to keep the momentum and hopefully advance to the next round of the tournament,” Quadri said after his victory.
“It is always difficult playing against Harimoto because he is a very fast player. It’s not just that he is a tough opponent, he is a good player who is capable of winning as well.
“But having played him twice at a big stage like this, I think I will try my best to bring him down this time around because it’s a 50-50 match for both of us, anybody can win.
“In this tournament, every player has an equal chance to win the title because we are all at the same level regardless of your world ranking. I am happy with my performance and I hope I can do more,” Aruna said after his win.
Quadri is the only African player left in the competition following the early exit of Egypt’s quartet Omar Assar, Dina Meshref, Hana Goda and Mariam Alhodaby and should he get past Harimoto on Thursday, he will face the winner of the round of 16 fixture between Hugo Calderano and Darko Jorgic.