Finland’s Benedek Olah first trip to Africa ended in celebration after the Finnish claimed his first ITTF World Tour title at the 2016 Premier Lotto Nigeria Open on Sunday.
Also, Jieni Shao’s second trip to Africa ended well as she retained her women singles title at the Nigeria Open.
To emerge as men singles champion, Benedek Olah beat Egypt’s Khalid Assar in the final 4-1 to lift his first title in an ITTF-organised tournament.
Prior to his berth in the final, Olah had defeated Nigeria’s duo of Bode Abiodun in seven games (12-10, 9-11, 8-11, 5-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-5), before overcoming Segun Toriola in a six-game contest (9-11, 11-8, 11-5, 12-10, 9-11, 11-6).
“I really enjoyed myself in Lagos, I think the fans were unique and I really felt them whenever I was playing; this is not common across the world, here the fans were always supporting us”, said Benedek Olah.
“I hope to come back because I really played very well particularly the quarter-final and semi-final matches against Nigeria’s Bode Abiodun and Segun Toriola”, added Benedek Olah.
“They were my toughest opponents because they played with a lot of spin with different kind of style.
“My game is now on another level because I was consistent in this tournament and this paid off for me to win my first World Tour title; I had a good feeling throughout the tournament and I hope to be back next year”, concludes Olah.
He insisted that he did not invitation to the tournament by Aruna Quadri. “I did not regret being invited by Quadri Aruna; I think there was a good atmosphere for the players and I must also commend the organisers for a good job.
For Portugal’s Shao Jieni, the winner of the women’s singles event in Lagos there is also progress but not quite as dramatic as that experienced by Olah.
The top seed recovered from an opening game deficit to beat Hungary’s Szandra Pergel, the second seed, in five games (9-11,11-8,11-4,11-6,11-9) to clinch the top prize.
“This is my second time in Nigeria and I am happy that I am able to retain my title”, said Shao Jieni. “Lagos is a very special place for me because the fans are always there for the players.”
“I can say that the final was not that easy but I put a lot of power into my shots and my service was also helpful”, added Shao Jieni who is the only Portuguese player to reach an ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles final.
“Particularly I was overwhelmed by the support from the Lagos fans”, stressed Shao Jieni. “Certainly, this helped me in the tournament as I hope to come back to Lagos again.”