For the support he has always enjoyed whenever he is playing in Lagos, Egypt’s Omar Assar believes the fans played a crucial role in his triumph at the ITTF Nigeria Open ‘Lagos 2017’.
The Egyptian who made history as the first player to win the men’s singles title thrice as well as unbeaten in all his participation in the tournament is willing to return to Lagos for the competition.
To claim the title in 2017, Assar beat India’s Sarthak Gandhi in the final 4-0 (11-6, 13-11, 11-6, 11-8). With the win, Assar maintains his perfect record in Lagos, having now won the tournament on each occasion he has played.
“I feel very wonderful wining this competition again. This competition is very special for me because it being hosted in Lagos. The fans in Lagos have been very supportive in me claiming the title. So I need to ensure I play very well because many people are waiting to see me winning the title. From the start of the tournament, there have been a lot of improvements among the Nigerians and Egyptians, while I am particularly thrilled with the performance of the Indians,” said Omar Assar.
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Assar, who is Aruna Quadri’s partner in men’s doubles, believes the Nigerian would return stronger following his round of 16 exit. “Aruna Quadri and others played really well. But I am always proud whenever I and Aruna Quadri play in the final of any major event because it helps to promote the sport in Africa. Aruna Quadri is a very good player and I am sure next he will make a comeback and have better competition next time,” he said.
Dina Meshref made sure Egypt doubled down on the titles, defeating Russia’s Olga Kulikova in the final of the Women’s Singles. It was a 4-0 (11-4, 16-14, 12-10, 11-6) victory for Meshref, who dropped only two games during the event. It was the Egyptian’s third attempt at the title, and it turned out to be third time’s lucky, having made the quarterfinal in 2014, and final in 2015.
As Africa’s number one player, she kept continental pride and made sure the title stayed on home soil for the first time in the event’s history.