By Tony Nwanne
Africa’s flag bearer at the 2016 ITTF World Cup holding in Saarbrucken, Germany, Aruna Quadri, has bowed out of the competition, as the Nigerian failed to progress to the second round of the championship.
Quadri, who had more fans than any player in the competition based on his outstanding performance in 2014 as well as his exploits at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, was shown the exit by the duo of Sweden’s Par Gerell and Singapore’s Ning Gao.
Despite taking the lead against the Swedish star, Quadri’s undoing was his inability to return the service of his opponent and this fetched the Swedish star more points in the counter that ended 4-2 in favour of Gerell.
The aggressive and topspin service of the Swedish player was what unwind Quadri whose defeat served as revenge for the European who was bundled out of the 2016 German Open by Quadri earlier this year.
As usual, a comport Quadri gave the German fans something to cheer in his second group match against Singapore’s Gao Ning as every point won by the Nigerian received a huge applaud from the fans at the venue of the tournament.
Quadri took a 2-0 lead against the Asian star but his lead was thwarted when the Commonwealth champion won three games in a roll to put the match at 3-2.
The support from the fans spurred Quadri who levelled up at 3-3 but a lot of forced errors from Quadri caused him the seventh match to give the Asian star a 4-3 win at the end of the clash.
A not-too-happy Quadri blamed his early exit on ill-luck, “I think I was just unlucky in this competition because I played very well in all the two matches. My inability to return my opponent service in the first game affected me while the experience of my opponent in the second game was my undoing. This is another lesson for me and I will keep on working hard.”
For Sweden’s Par Gerell, beating Quadri was indeed a big relief, “I tried to be more aggressive compared to our first meeting at German Open. I also put a lot of spin into my service and put him under a lot of pressure. When it comes to forehand and rally, he is better than me. But I ensured I did not allow him to play his game. This win is very important because three of us in the group have equal chance to qualify from the group.