Giant killer, Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna, did it again yesterday at the World Table Tennis Finals in Doha when he came from the brink of defeat to beat the world’s number five rated player, Hugo Calderano, in from a dumbfounded crowd.
The Brazilian had beaten Aruna in their last two meetings, but the Rio 2016 Olympics quarterfinalist was determined to halt change the narrative this term.
Just like it happened in their previous meetings, the Brazilian raced to a lead with a 2-0 (11-7, 11-2) win over Aruna, but the African champion silenced the roaring supporters of the South American champion in the third game with 11-9 win to narrow the gap to 2-1.
Aruna continued from where he stopped in the third game with a close 12-10 win to put the game into a 2-2 tie.
The fifth game being the deciding encounter started in favour of Aruna, who led from the start 8-4, but the South American worked his way back into the game at 8-8. He took the lead at 9-8, 10-9, but the ferocious forehand of Aruna did the magic for the Nigerian as his shots dazed Calderano to concede the fifth game at 12-10 and hand Aruna his first victory over the South American star.
An elated Aruna said afterwards: “I cannot describe how it feels. But I’m very happy and excited.”
The Nigerian who was coached by Tunisia’s Hachmi Abid hailed the tactician for his support throughout the encounter.
“My coach was telling don’t give up and keep fighting. One set could actually make a difference and it did make a big difference. I listen to him very much. I believe so much in him and I was just doing what he told me to do,” he added.
The win eased Aruna into the quarterfinal of the $340,000 prize money tournament and a rematch against world number one, Fan Zhendong of China,today.
“I’ve never had a win against Fan Zhendong … I believe I can give my best tomorrow and see how it will go. It’s very important to enjoy it,” Aruna enthused.