It was an agonising loss for Finland’s Benedek Olah, the winner two years ago when he beat Egypt’s Khalid Assar in the final;. Benedek Olah lost at the quarter-final stage of the Men’s Singles event at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Seamaster Nigeria Open in Lagos on the evening of Saturday 11th August.
Despite been seed as no.3; Olah lost by very narrow seven games margins to Thailand’s Supanut Wisutmaythangkoon, the no.10 seed (10-12, 11-7, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-9).
Thus since the tournament was first staged in 2014 as part of the ITTF World Tour, a new Men’s Singles champion will be crowned; above all one player eyes the top prize with envy.
In 2015 the host nation’s Quadri Aruna was beaten in the final by Egypt’s Omar Assar, now three years later his hopes are very much alive and well. At the quarter-final stage, the top seed, he accounted for Romania’s Rares Sipos, the no.29 seed (11-6, 11-8, 11-5, 12-10).
Quadri Aruna now meets Supanut Wisutmaythangkoon in the penultimate round, a stage of play for whom it is very much new territory. He has never progressed to the latter stages at either an ITTF Challenge Series tournament or on the ITTF World Tour.
It is a similar situation for Scotland’s Gavin Rumgay, the no.9 seed. He booked his semi-final place courtesy of success against Padasak Tanviriyavechakul, the no.17 seed and like Supanut Wisutmaythangkoon from Thailand. The Scot emerged successful by the minimal two point margin in a contest that ebbed and flowed (10-12, 11-7, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-9).
Notably in 2015 in Surat, Gavin Rumgay reached the quarter-finals of the Men’s Singles event at the Commonwealth Championships but has never progressed to the concluding day at an ITTF World Tour or Challenge Series tournament; last year in Lagos he bid farewell in round three. He lost to Omar Assar, the eventual champion.
At the semi-final stage, Frenchman Antoine Hachard, the no.16 seed awaits Gavin Rumgay; he beat Argentina’s Horacio Cifuentes, no.7 seed (11-3, 11-8, 13-11, 10-12, 11-9) and thus remains on course to repeat his feat of two years ago in Santiago. On that occasion he also caused Argentina pain; in the final of the Men’s Singles event at the ITTF World Tour Chile Open, he beat Gaston Alto to claim the top prize.