By Godwin Aikigbe
Defending champion, Aruna Quadri faces 3rd seeded Ahmed Saleh of Egypt at the semi-finals of ITTF Continental Cup in Kasarani, Kenya.
The Nigerian reached the last four after he whitewashed Ghanaian Derek Abrefa in straight sets of 11-2, 11-9, 11-1 and 11-8 on Friday.
Saleh battled to beat Sami Kherouf from Tunisia in 4-2 sets of 11-8, 6-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-5 and 11-9 on a day of upsets that saw Sarah Hanffou from Cameroon and Algeria’ Lynda Loghraibi eliminate top seeded players to storm into the semi-finals.
Second seed Olufunke Oshonaike failed to reach the last four after being stunned 4-2 by Eighth seed Hanffou, the 31-year-old, who lifted the Continental Cup last in 2010. She won the first set 11-6 before Oshonaike recovered to win the next two sets 14-12 and 11-8.
However, Hanffou, who is a lawyer based in France, ran through the Germany-based Nigerian, beating her 11-5, 55-5 and 11-8 to win and reach the semi-final for the first time since 2010.
“It’s a great feeling to beat my great friend and doubles partner,” said Hanffou. “We know each other well and it was a matter of who blinks first. I know she is a bit upset but I know she was tired.”
Hanffou said it will be premature for her to celebrate yet as she prepares to face Loghraibi in the semi-finals.
In the other quarterfinal matches, top seeded Dina Meshref from Egypt beat Christy Bristol from Seychelles in straight sets of 4-0 (11-3, 11-3, 11-7, 11-4) to set up fourth seeded Nigerian Offiong Edem.
Edem stopped Tunisian Safa Saidani 4-2 in 5-11, 11-7, 3-11, 11-5 and 11-8 to advance to the semis.
Kenya’s Sejal Thakkar was due to play South African Kalam Musfiquh in the playoff for 15th place.
In the men’s competition, fourth seeded and experienced Segen Toriola found his match in seventh seeded Congolese Saheed Idowu, who upset him in 4-2 sets of 6-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-6, 9-11 and 10-12.
Idowu will now meet top seeded Omar Assar from Egypt in the semi-finals. Assar, who is ranked 16th in the world, tore Thameur Mamia from Tunisia apart in 4-1 sets of 11-9, 11-6, 10-12 and 11-3.
Saleh battled to beat Sami Kherouf from Tunisia in 4-2 sets of 11-8, 6-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-5 and 11-9.