Quadri Aruna continued his Trojan surge to the last 16 of the men’s singles at the 2023 WTT Singapore Smash after dismissing French sensation Alexis Lebrun 3-2 in the second round on Tuesday March 14.
Being the only surviving African in the competition following the early exit of Egypt’s quartet of Omar Assar, Dina Meshref, Hana Goda and Mariam Alhodaby, Aruna marched into the last 16 of the lucrative tournament after a hard-fought win over giant-killing French star.
Despite dominating the first game with an 11-8 win over Aruna, Lebrun was in the driver’s seat in the second game but the Nigerian caught up with him and raced to the lead to win at 11-8. The third game was in favour of Aruna who claimed an 11-5 win to put the tie at 2-1. But some mistakes by Aruna cost him the fourth game as Lebrun leveled up after an 11-7 win to take the match into the deciding fifth game.
Aware of what was ahead of him in the fifth game; Aruna came out stronger in the game by dictating from the start and took the lead with his opponent committing several unforced errors. Even when Lebrun wanted to change tactics, Aruna decided to be on the offensive and this paid off for him as he started picking points through rallies. Without much effort, Aruna won the fifth game at 11-7 to record another 3-2 win just like he did in the first round against Germany’s Ruwen Filus.
Aruna’s last 16 tie will be against Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto on Thursday March 16 and the Nigerian who is yet to record any win against the Japanese star hopes for the best.
“It is always difficult playing against Harimoto because he is a very fast player but having played him twice at big stage like this, I think I will try my best to bring him down this time around because it is a 50-50 match for both of us as anybody can win. In this tournament, every player has an equal chance to win the title because we are all at the same level regardless of your world ranking. I am happy with my performance and I hope I can do more,” Aruna enthused.