In what has become a usual pattern, Africa’s No. 1 table tennis player, Aruna Qaudri of Nigeria, was, yesterday, sent packing in the first round from the World Table Tennis Contender Series in Doha, losing 1-3 at the Lusail Sports Arena.

Apart from the $75,000 winners’ prize money at stake, the WTT Contender Doha also has 400 world ranking points.

Qaudri, who was knocked out in the quarterfinals of the WTT Contender Durban, last week, was defeated by Portugal’s Marcos Freitas in the early hours of yesterday in Doha.

Aruna’s defeat was a comeback victory for the Portuguese, who is world No. 34.

The 35-year-old Aruna took the first set with a comfortable 11-5 scoreline, but failed to keep the momentum. Freitas soon discovered his strength and rushed to 11-7, 11-9, and 13-11 in the other three sets.

The encounter in Doha was their fifth matchup, but just their third in a singles’ event. The Portuguese now lead 2-1 head-to-head score.

The 2023 WTT Contender Doha will continue until Saturday, January 21.

Also yesterday, top seeds, Hugo Calderano and Jang Woojin were comfortable 3-0 winners, while Andrej Gacina lost shockingly to South Korea’s Cho Seungmin, ranked 60th in the world.

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