Aruna defeated world number four Tomokazu Harimoto in the round of 16 of the men’s singles event at the Infinity Arena earlier today. The Nigerian outclassed Harimoto to end his losing streak against the tournament’s 4th seed at 3-0 (11-7, 13-11, 11-7).
Aruna is 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.
Before the historic win, the Nigerian had lost thrice to the Japanese superstar who is ranked fourth in the world. Aruna, who is ranked 14th in the world showed class and composure to stun Harimoto at the big stage in Singapore.
From the start of the contest, Aruna showed his intention to end the terrible losing record he had against the Japanese opponent and brought his best to the table thrashing Harimoto with his ferocious backhand shots that most times confused the Asian star.
Even when Harimoto was trailing 5-0 in the second game, he managed to bring the score back to level by pushing it into deuce but couldn’t muster enough to overpower Aruna who found the answers for him.
Hoping to repeat what he did during the round of 32 when he had to come back from a 2-0 down to beat his French opponent, Harimoto’s hope was dashed as Aruna squashed his possible comeback, dominating the rallies and sailing to his first ever victory over the wonder kid.
“I actually spoke with some coaches here and they gave me some great advice on how to play Harimoto so I thought, “Let me try.” I’ve been trying out some tactics before against him and it didn’t work but the advice from the coaches really worked very well for me today. But of course I have to keep the advice to myself for our next meeting,” a delighted Aruna said.
“When it was 5-0, I had been serving short to his forehand and I was trying to change it up, maybe serve long to his backhand just to make him a little bit uncomfortable. Unfortunately, it was a mistake and he caught up to 5-5, but I wasn’t giving up. I put myself together and kept fighting,” the Nigerian said.
“I’m very happy here — Singapore always brings positive memories. Two years ago, I made it to the quarterfinals here when I beat Liang Jingkun from China (at the WTT Cup Finals Singapore 2021). This actually was a very good one for me. For Africa and Nigeria, it’s another quarterfinal and I really hope I can make it count this time too,” Aruna said.
In the quarter-finals, Aruna will face the winner of the clash between Hugo Calderano of Brazil and Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic
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