by Wade Townsend
Nigeria’s leading man and top seed at the event was knocked out of the Men’s Singles event today by teammate Bode Abiodun. It was a 4-2 win for the underdog, who says familiarity with his opponent helped him get over the line.
“He is my teammate at Sporting Lisbon and I know how he plays. This is my first time of upsetting a top player. I believe I can make Nigeria proud as the weight is on my shoulder now.” Bode Abiodun
Biodun didn’t disappoint, and kept Nigeria’s hopes alive by taking out India’s Sanil Shetty 4-3 in the next round to book his place in the semi-final.
Qualifier breaks through
India’s Sarthak Gandhi negotiated his way through the qualification stages and now finds himself in the semi-final of the Men’s Singles. His biggest upset of the day was his first match against Qatar’s Li Ping. Gandhi won that match in six games and didn’t look back, following it up with a narrow 4-3 win against Romania’s Alexandru Azacu and then a more convincing 4-1 quarterfinal clash against Congo’s Saheed Dowu. The Challenge Series has a history of qualifiers making their way through to the final, could that be the case in Lagos?
Opportunity opens up
Portugal’s Jieni Shao, the top seed in Lagos, was looking for a third consecutive title. However, following disruption in air travel after a recent earthquake in Sichuan Province, She was unable to travel from China. In her absence the top half the draw in the Women’s Singles opened up, and it’s the Ukraine’s Ganna Farladanska that has taken advantage of the opportunity to move in to the semi-final. In the bottom half of the draw the second and third seeds have both negotiated their way to the semi-final. Hungary’s Szandra Pergel and Egypt’s Dina Meshref have both been class acts up to this point, never looking in trouble in Lagos.
Under 21 titles decided
Italy’s Giorgia Piccolin defeated Hungary’s Bernadett Balint to claim the Under 21 Women’s Singles title in Lagos. It was a minor upset victory, with the No.2 seed getting the better of the No.1; but the margin couldn’t have been any closer. Piccolin notched up a 3-2 win, taking the deciding game 12-10 to secure the crown. Meanwhile, Youssef Abdel-Aziz reigned supreme in the Under 21 Men’s Singles with a 3-0 win over Portugal’s Jose Pedro Francisco. Although it was in straight games, the scoreline hints at a match that could have gone either way, with the Egyptian winning 11-9, 11-9, 11-8. Abdel-Aziz now has a perfect record in Under 21 Men’s Singles events, having won the title on his debut in the category.
The Men’s and Women’s Doubles semi-finals provided some marathon matches for the fans. Three of the four matches went the full five game distance. Perhaps the fans will be ruing the the close encounters however, as local favourites Cecilia An and Janet Effiom went down 3-2 to Egypt, bringing a halt to Nigeria’s shot at a doubles title in Lagos.