by Ian Marshall, Editor
Aiming for a third consecutive success in the tournament, one in which the winner gains a place in the Men’s World Cup later this year to be staged in the German city of Düsseldorf, it was sheer agony for Egypt’s Omar Assar.
Having done Quadri Aruna, the top seed a favour, the no.4 seed, he experienced defeat at the hands of the Nigerian by the minimal two point margin in the deciding seventh game of their semi-final encounter (5-11, 6-11, 11-4, 14-12, 7-11, 11-5, 12-10).
The agony was that in the fourth game twice he held game points for a 3-1 lead; in the seventh he led 10-8 before losing four points in a row. In fact it was only at 11-10 in the decider when Quadri Aruna was ever in the lead in the overall match.
Meanwhile, the favour was in the quarter-finals when Omar Assar had beaten Olajide Omotayo, the no.3 seed (11-7, 12-10, 11-5, 11-7), the young man who last August had accounted for colleague Quadri Aruna in the men’s singles final at the prestigious 2019 African Games.
Problems for Egypt, in the opposite half of the draw it was success. Ahmed Ali Saleh, the no.2 seed and three times the tournament winner, after overcoming the host nation’s Adam Hmam, the no.9 seed (11-4, 11-2, 11-5, 11-8) ended the hopes of Senegal’s Ibrahima Diaw, the no.5 seed (14-12, 11-7, 3-11, 11-9, 11-7), the 27 year old making his debut in the tournament.
Once again in final
Progress to the final in some style, it was the same in the women’s event for his compatriot, Dina Meshref, the winner on seven previous occasions, the last six in a row.
Occupying the top seeded position, she beat Algeria’s Lynda Loghraibi, the no.5 seed (11-6, 9-11, 11-2, 11-6, 11-7) and Cameroon’s Sarah Hanffou, the no.3 seed (11-6, 11-1, 11-13, 9-11, 11-7, 11-4) to reserve her place in the final where Nigeria’s Offiong Edem awaits.
At the quarter-final stage, Offiong Edem, the no.2 seed, accounted for Tunisia’s Fadwa Garci, the no.7 seed (11-8, 7-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-6), prior to ousting Yousra Helmy, the no.4 seed and like Dina Meshref from Egypt (6-11, 14-16, 11-8, 11-7, 11-7, 11-6) to reserve her place in the final.
The finals of both the men’s and women’s events, in addition to the play-off matches for the lower positions will be conducted on Wednesday 26th February.