Quadri Aruna slugged it out against world and Olympic champion Ma Long of China in the first round of the men’s singles of WTT Champions Macao.
Aruna who exited last week’s WTT Champions Xinxiang in the first round after losing 3-0 to Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju will be competing against world’s best at the second WTT Champions event of the year which kicks off on Monday April 17 at Tap Seac Multisport Pavilion.
WTT Champions Macao has a combined prize pool of $800,000 on offer with 1000 world ranking points waiting at the top of the podium for the champions.
Aruna touted as a potential threat to Chinese players after his performance at this year’s WTT Star Contender Doha where he edged out three top Chinese players to reach the semi final stage of the competition, hoping to give Ma Long a run for the match.
“There is no doubt that this is another tough match for me but I am going out there again to give my best because nothing is certain in the competition as everybody is in good form and nobody is sure of winning every match. It is 50-50 against any opponent in the competition.
There is no doubt that it is the biggest gathering of the best players in the world and I am hoping that my best will see me through this time around,”Aruna said.
From their last meeting last year, Ma Long had a torrid time defeating the Nigerian 3-1 in an explosive encounter but with the recent slide of the Chinese at the highest level, nothing seems sure for him against Aruna described as the biggest thing to have emerged from Nigeria and Africa in table tennis.
Ranked 11th in the world, Aruna will face the world number four with the hope of advancing to the second round.
Egypt’s Omar Assar will face another Herculean task as he has been pitched against Brazil’s Hugo Calderano in the first round. Assar who has not been in fine form lately will have to redouble his effort against the world number five.
In the women’s singles, Africa’s sole flagbearer Dina Meshref of Egypt has been drawn against Australia’s Yangzi Liu in the first round as the African women champion looks to go beyond the first round in Macao.