by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
In Shenzhen, the task for Zhang Jike is to make strides towards his former status; he is presently listed at no.168 on the Men’s World Rankings, Quadri Aruna is over one hundred places higher at no.22.
It is a far different situation to just under four years ago when, on Saturday 25th October, they met in Düsseldorf at the quarter-final stage of the Liebherr 2014 Men’s World Cup, the era when Zhang Jike was at his zenith. He was the reigning Olympic and World champion, he duly progressed to win the title beating colleague Ma Long in a memorable final and thus held the three major titles the sport has to offer at the same time.
Quadri Aruna, we knew the name but the fact he progressed to the round of the last eight and extended Zhang Jike to six games (6-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-7, 8-11, 11-8) shot the Nigerian to global fame. Now no longer is it a major surprise when the man of great sincerity and integrity reaches the latter stages of a major event. Now, he is more than the man who gave Zhang Jike a torrid time at the Liebherr 2014 Men’s World Cup.
In Düsseldorf Quadri Aruna was the sensation; in Shenzhen Zhang Jike is the returning hero.
Play in the main event commences on Thursday 31st May.