by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Egypt’s Dina Meshref, the defending champion, faces Christy Bristol of the Seychelles and starts as the odds on favourite being listed at no.33 on the current Women’s World Rankings, as opposed to her adversary, named at no.285.
However, as with the contest between Olufunke Oshonaike and Sarah Hanffou, the two further duels are very much too close to call.
Tunisia’s Safa Saidani and Algeria’s Lynda Loghraibi, both remained unbeaten to top their groups. Contrary to expectations Safa Saidani beat Egypt’s Farah Abdel-Aziz, the no.3 seed, Lynda Loghraibi overcame Nigeria’s Offiong Edem, the no.4 seed. In the round of the last eight, Safa Saidani faces Offiong Edem, Lynda Loghraibi confronts Farah Abdel-Aziz.
Meanwhile, on the opening day of play in the Men’s Singles event, Ghana’s Derek Abrefa and Algeria’s Sami Kherouf were the male players to attract the attention. Derek Abrefa extended Egypt’s Omar Assar, the top seed, the full five games distance, as did Sami Kherouf when confronting Nigeria’s Segun Toriola, the no.4 seed.
Both face daunting quarter-final tasks; Derek Abrefa confronts Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna, the no.2 seed and defending champion, Sami Kherouf opposes the vastly experienced Egyptian, Ahmed Ali Saleh, former winner of the Men’s Singles title at both the African Championships and African Cup.
Equally, in the opposite half of the draw, Tunisia’s Thameur Mamia and Congo Brazzaville’s Saheed Idowu face most difficult tasks. Egypt’s Omar Assar awaits Thameur Mamia, for Saheed Idowu, it is Nigeria’s Segun Toriola.
The semi-finals and finals of both the Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles events will be played on Saturday 3rd March.