Aruna Quadri proved bookmakers wrong on Thursday at the Hong Kong Open with an out-of-world performance against Chinese pen-holder Peifeng Zheng. Quadri was not even considered the favourite in the tie at the ongoing ITTF World Tour.
Despite the unfriendly attitude of the Chinese in the encounter, Quadri was not deterred as he was bent on showing the young Asian that he would not fall for his antics.
From the start of the first round of the men’s singles clash, Quadri’s forehand became the undoing of the Chinese as he could not control the shots.
The first game was close but Quadri won 12-10. The Oyo State-born star progressed his dominance with an 11-9 win in the second game. But the Chinese star was not ready to surrender the tie to the 2018 Nigeria Open champion with a 9-11 win over the Nigerian.
To keep the lead, Quadri fought well to win the fourth game at 11-5. But several unforced errors cost Quadri the fifth and sixth games as the Chinese won 5-11 and 10-12 to put the encounter at 3-3.
In the deciding seventh game, Quadri ensured he led from the start and this paid off for him as he ended the dream of the 2018 Czech Open champion with an 11-5 win to complete his 4-3 victory in the first round of the men’s singles.
Another challenge confronts Quadri in the second round (last 16) as the Nigerian will slug it out with the World Junior Champion, Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto, who edged out Sweden’s Jon Persson 4-2 in the first round.
The Japanese teenager has been fluctuating in his performance in recent times and this may work in Quadri’s favour. According to ITTF, the encounter promises to be explosive at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium, venue of the championship.