WTT Finals: Gallant Aruna bows to world number one, Zhendong

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Aruna Quadri’s bid to rewrite the history books at the ongoing World Table Tennis (WTT) Finals in Doha came to gallant end yesterday when he fell to the world’s best player, Fan Zhendong of China in the quarterfinals of the competition.

The World Table Tennis Finals features the globe’s current best 16 players and before the opening day of the event, Aruna was the least in ranking among the stars. But he had defied the odds to beat number five ranked Brazilian, Hugo Calderano, on Wednesday, thus raising hopes that he could pull the biggest upset yet in the game.

But Zhendong proved a mountain too high for the African king, who fell to the Chinese in three straight sets of 11-6, 11-9, 11-4. Before yesterday’s game, Aruna had lost to the Chinese in their last four meetings, but some optimists still believed that having balled one top star out, he could do it again at the Infinity Arena in Doha.

Perhaps, Aruna’s undoing was trying to match Zhendong power for power and shot for shot, as the Asian champion rallied his superior experience and firepower to win the tournament’s first quarterfinal.

Zhendong is campaigning for his second WTT Finals title after lifting the Men’s Singles trophy in 2021. Aruna was bidding to set a new record as the first African player to reach the semifinal at the WTT Finals, having exited the tournament at the quarterfinals stage in 2021.

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