Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna secured a convincing win over Romania’s Rares Sipos amidst an electrifying atmosphere at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Indoor Sports Hall on Saturday night, to seal his place in the semis of the men’s Singles event at the 2018 Seamaster ITTF Challenge Nigeria Open.
Earlier in the day, the top seed had handed a 4-0 defeat to fellow Nigerian Kazeem Makanjuola in the Round of 16. This evening, his opponent Sipos stood no chance as the home crowd rallied round Aruna, inspiring him to another 4-0 victory against the Romanian in the quarterfinals.
The Nigerian went up 10-8 in the last game, needing just a point to seal it. However, Sipos made him work hard for it, leveling at 10-10. But Aruna wasn’t going to gift him a game, settling the game 12-10 to progress to the last 4. This is a massive improvement for the World No.18 who exited the tournament in the Round of 16 last year.
Speaking with Making of Champions after the game, Sipos admitted that he enjoyed the charged atmosphere, and looks forward to coming to Nigeria next year.
He said, “Aruna was the better player tonight so he deserved to win. It is true that he had the support of the crowd but that did not affect me. I really enjoy the energy from the crowd, and I am happy to be here. My performance this year was better than last year, so I expect to get even better next year”.
Aruna is the only Nigerian left in the tournament across all categories, and will face Thailand’s Supanut Wisutmaythangkoon in the semis on Sunday morning.
Veteran Segun Toriola was out-served by Finland’s Benedek Olah 4-0 in the Round of 16, while Jamiu Azeez also lost out 2-4 to Scotland’s Gavin Rumgay.
It was a Chinese affair in the women’s quarterfinals as six of the eight quarterfinalists hail from the Asian nation. Unseeded Wensheng Wei produced one of the upsets of the tournament as she sent top seed Suthasini Sawettabut packing with a 4-3 win.
Nigeria’s Olufunke Oshonaike succumbed to a 4-1 defeat from China’s Siqi Fan, while Cecilia Akpan was defeated by Hungary’s Szandra Pergel in the Round of 16 of the women’s Singles event on Saturday morning.
The men and women’s Singles final will come up on Sunday evening.