Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri heads into the 2019 season as the best African player on the latest International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) ranking released Wednesday.
Quadri, 30, is ranked 26th, the same position he occupied to end the 2018 season on 9,394 points. His point haul came from eight of his best performances during the 2018 season.
He won the ITTF African Championship in Port Louis, Mauritius to earn his biggest points and followed it up with a runner up spot at the ITTF African Cup in Nairobi, Kenya.
Quadri was the fans favourite when he stepped out at the Molade Okoya Indoor Sports Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos for the ITTF sanctioned Seamaster Nigeria Open which he also won.
The African top ranked player got to the Round of 16 at the ITTF Men’s World Cup in Paris, France amongst several other glorious outings.
Interestingly, the Egyptian he displaced from the Number 1 spot in Africa, Assar Omar was ranked way behind Quadri in the 47th position with 7,263 points in the current standings.
It was only last July that Quadri leapt over the Egyptian to be ranked Number 20 in the world and has not looked back since then.
The Nigerian who was ranked 22nd in June leapt over Assar, who dropped from 17th to 21st. With 10234 points, Quadri upstaged Assar who amassed 10233 points in the latest ranking.
Two times last year, Quadri made the Top 20 in the world, having made the same spot in January 2018 – being the first to be achieved by a Nigerian.
However, Chinese pair of Fan Zhendong and Ding Ning head into 2019 on top of the men’s and women’s World Rankings respectively.
The pair hit extraordinary heights in 2018 and were subsequently crowned winners of the ITTF Star Awards in Incheon, Korea.
Ding Ning’s return to the Number 1 position completes a remarkable turnaround over the last 12 months. She had started January 2018 in 21st place.
Having already occupied the Number 1 position for a total 48 months (Nov 2011 – Aug 2013; Oct 2014 – Oct 2015; Oct 2016 – Oct 2017), the 29-year-old sealed her place at the summit again upon reaching the semi-finals of the World Tour Grand Finals last December.
A productive 2018 saw her claim titles at the Women’s World Cup and Bulgarian Open, whilst finishing runner-up at the China and Australian Opens.
Meanwhile, Fan Zhendong’s first stint as world Number 1 heads into its 10th month, having risen to the summit in April 2018.
The 21-year-old enjoyed an exceptional past year, winning three ITTF World Tour events (Hungarian, Qatar and Swedish Opens), the Men’s World Cup and the ITTF Asian Cup.
After playing the best table tennis of their respective careers in 2018, Japanese Tomokazu Harimoto and Hugo Calderano of Brazil will start the new year in their highest ever World Ranking positions.
Harimoto rises two places to 3rd having won the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Incheon. At just 15 years and 172 days old, he became the youngest ever player to claim a singles title at the end-of-year showpiece event and he is now also the youngest ever 3rd-placed player in World Ranking history.
Meanwhile, Calderano remains at Number 6, but has opened up a significant gap of almost 600 points between himself and 7th-placed Lee Sangsu of Korea after he too impressed in Korea, beating world Number 1, Zhendong in a breath-taking quarter-final encounter.
China maintains three of the top five positions with Xu Xin and Lin Gaoyuan occupying 2nd and 4th places respectively, while Timo Boll of Germany drops to 5th as a result of Harimoto’s jump up the pecking order.
Further down the list, Jun Mizutani of Japan moves into the Top 10 after reaching the semi-finals in Incheon, Jang Woojin (Korea) rises to 11th as Ma Long (China) drops to 12th, while Dimitrij Ovtcharov (Germany) falls to 14th place just 12 months after topping the Men’s World Ranking.