Africa’s run at the 2019 ITTF World Championships holding in Budapest, Hungary has come to an end after Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri suffered an enterprising defeat to China’s world number one Fan Zhendong in the third round of men’s singles on Wednesday.
Quadri, who is the reigning African Champion, got off to a good start against the world number one but the Chinese found his footing to level up at 9-9 in the first game and eventually triumphed 12-10 in a closely fought match.
However, the Nigerian was no match for the Asian giant in the second and third games with the Chinese winning11-2, 11-6.
Quadri put up more fight in the fourth game and led at a point just like he did in the first game but the superior quality of Fan Zhendong again came to fore as he leveled up against to win 11-9 to secure a 4-0 (12-10, 11-2, 11-6, 11-9) victory.
Quadri exited the Hungexpo Hall venue of the match to rousing applause from the fans who showed an appreciation for his battling display against the best table tennis player in the world.
The Nigerian will take solace in reaching the last 32 of the World Championships for the first time in his career having never gone past the second round since he made his debut at Zagreb 2007 in Croatia.
Although disappointed at not winning a game against the Chinese, Quadri who is currently ranked 23rd in the world, said he hoped his showing at the championship will help him move up the World Rankings when they are released next week.
The tournament enters the last 16 stage as Brazil’s Hugo Calderano became the first player outside Europe and Asia to make it to the last 16 of the competition in the last five decades. The Brazilian defeated his Indian counterpart to berth in the last 16 and set up a tie against defending champion – China’s Ma Long.