In a thrilling fashion, Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri defeated defending champion, Omar Assar in the seminfinal of the 2020 ITTF Africa Top 16 Cup holding in Tunis.
Quadri ensured that a new champion would emerge in the men’s singles of the table twnnis competition by coming from 2-0 down to beat Egypt’s Assar 4-3 in an epic encounter.
The tie between the two best players in Africa had all the elements of a world class match, and the fans at the Rades Multi-Purpose Hall were not disappointed.
It was Assar who drew the first blood with a 2-0 (11-6, 11-5) lead over Quadri, but the tide changed when the Nigerian worked back into the game with two successive wins of 11-4, 14-12 to put the tie at 2-2.
Assar took charge of the game with another 11-7 win to put the match at 3-2 and in his usual element, Quadri fought back again to level with 11-5 win to put the tie at 3-3.
The deciding game was as if the Egyptian would leave the table on time but Quadri again extended the match to 7-7. But three consecutive unforced errors gave Assar a 10-8 lead as the Egyptian needed one point to hit the final.
Quadri has a lot in his sleeve as he wriggled his way back into the game to put the tie at deuce (10-10). Even when the Nigerian led at 11-10, a crucial time-out was what he needed to calm the match.
To put the match beyond the Egyptian, an unforced error from Assar handed Quadri a 4-3 win.
Victory for Quadri was his second consecutive one over Assar in major competitions, as it was Quadri who carried the day in their last meeting at the 2019 African Games, where he won 4-2.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Offiong Edem and defending champion, Egypt’s Dina Meshref will battle for the title in the women’s final.
The winners of the tournament are expected to represent Africa at the 2020 ITTF men and women’s World Cups.