Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna has vowed to deliver his best tennis against India’s Sathiyan Gnanasekaran who he faces on Wednesday in his opening match in the main draw of the men’s singles at the World Table Tennis (WTT) Middle East Hub taking place in Doha, Qatar.
The encounter will be the first between Aruna, Africa’s top-ranked player and number 21 in the world and 28-year-old Indian star Gnanasekaran who is ranked 37th in the world.
While their ranking positions suggest Aruna will be favourite to progress, the 2019 Nigeria Open champion insists there are “no minnows in table tennis” and will not entertain any thoughts of complacency.
The Nigerian hopes a good run in Qatar will put him in good shape to secure a spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at the qualifiers holding later this month.
“I am hoping that my best will be enough for me against the best in Qatar,” Aruna said.
“There is no doubt that I am hopeful of a good outing in readiness for the World Olympic Qualification tournaments which takes place after the WTT tournament later this month. There are no minnows in table tennis and I hope my best will see me through the tournament.”
The 32-year-old Aruna is the last African left standing in the $200,000 prize money event after Senegal’s Ibrahima Diaw fell to Japan’s Masataka Morizono 3-1 (11-5, 11-6, 7-11, 12-10) in the fourth stage of the men’s singles preliminary round.
Diaw progressed the furthest of all Africans in the preliminaries with Africa’s other representatives including Olajide Omotayo and the Egyptian quartet of Omar Assar, Ahmed Saleh, Mohammed El-Beiali and Khaled Assar all failing to progress beyond the second stage.