Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri has stunned one of the most decorated Japanese stars in table tennis to reach the semi-final round of the ITTF World Tour tagged Bulgaria Open.
Being the last quarterfinal match in the men’s singles, the Bulgaria fans were treated to an exciting contest in Panagyurishte after the Nigerian hero knocks Japanese number 4 seed Jun Mizutani in a seven-game thriller.
Trailing 1-2 on games but Quadri is well known for his comebacks and his fighting spirit prevailed on this occasion, saving two game points in game four before going on to recover from 4-9 down to win game five 11-9.
Mizutani responded well to claim game six, forcing a decider. 9-6 down, Mizutani refused to give up the fight, going on to hold two match point opportunities.
However, Aruna Quadri showed nerves of steel, saving both points before going on to steal the win (8-11, 11-9, 6-11, 12-10, 11-9, 4-11, 13-11).
Portuguese qualifier, Marcos Freitas is also through to the last four of the championship after a fantastic victory over no.15 seed Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan.
At the start of play, it was the Chinese Taipei player who looked good for the win, claiming the opening game by an eight-point margin but Freitas also enjoyed his spells of dominance over the course of the match.
Ultimately it was game seven that produced the main story: 6-7 down Freitas opted to call a timeout, a decision that proved useful as the Portuguese star fought back to win the decider 11-9 and earn his spot in the penultimate round (3-11, 11-2, 11-3, 11-13, 4-11, 11-5, 11-9).
Japanese teenage sensation Tomokazu Harimoto also booked his place in the semi-finals of the men’s singles draw following a tight affair with fellow Japanese compatriot Takuya Jin.
Down 3-0 on the scoreboard, Jin needed to form a response and one did arrive with the qualifier pulling a game back. Then in game five Jin held game point advantage on two occasions but failed to convert as top seed Harimoto held his nerve, sealing the win by a 4-1 margin (11-7, 11-6, 14-12, 7-11, 13-11).
German Dimitrij Ovtcharov’s men’s singles run has concluded in the quarter-finals stage in Panagyurishte after the second seed lost out to world no.110 China’s Zhao Zihao in an exciting battle.
The 22-year-old pen-hold grip player from China started strongly and deservedly gained a healthy 2-0 lead.
Up against the ropes, Ovtcharov raised his performance, winning two of the next three games to reduce the deficit to 3-2. In game six, the two players gave it their all but there could only be one winner and that proved to be Zhao Zihao (11-6, 12-10, 8-11, 11-6, 5-11, 11-9).
In the semifinal tie scheduled for Sunday August 18, Aruna Quadri will face China’s Zhao Zihao, while Portugal’s Marcos Freitas will take on Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto.