by Wade Townsend
Down and out in Lagos
The doubles proved to be a dangerous event for the favourites in Lagos. Egyptian duo Mohamed El-Beiali and Ahmed Ali Saleh knocked out Quadri Aruna and Omar Assar in a five game duel. Aruna and Assar on paper looked set to dominate the event. But sometimes a doubles combination is more than the sum of its parts, and the Egyptian’s proved that today. Meanwhile in the Women’s Doubles, the defending champions bowed out early. The Russian combination of Irina Ermakova and Olga Kulikova had proved successful one year earlier, but in 2017 Hungary’s Bernadett Balint and Szandra Pergel ensured the Russian reign was short lived.
The Under 21 Men’s Singles will have two athletes on their finals debut, after both semi-finals went the full five game distance. Egypt’s Youssef Abdel-Aziz defeated the No.1 seed from Romania Rares Sipos, while Portugal’s Jose Pedro Francisco defeated Italian Carlo Rossi. The final will see two players on their Under 21 final debut. For Abdel-Aziz it is his first time competing in the event.
“I think it was the hardest match for me in this tournament because he was ranked number one and he rated higher than me in the world. There was a lot of pressure on me in the match but I am happy that I won to make my first final in my debut in Under 21s.” Youssef Abdel-Aziz
Class act continues
In the Men’s Singles the big names were largely untroubled. But of note is India’s continued dominance. India has yet to drop a game in the singles events, Men’s or Women’s. The team obviously adapted quickly to the environment in Lagos and seem to be thriving. Of course this run will have to come to an end at some point, but they will be enjoying it while it lasts.
In the Women’s Doubles Portugal’s Jieni Shao and Nigeria’s Olufunke Oshonaike were forced to give their opponents a win by default. Jieni Shao has unfortunately been left stranded in China following an earthquake and is unable to get to Lagos.