Ukrainian Lei Kou blanked Romanian Alexan Cazazu 4-0 to snatch the title as curtains came down on first Oman International Fiber Optic Table Tennis Championship late on Monday. Saudi Arabia’s Abdu al Abbad beat compatriot Ali al Khadrawi 4-1 to finish third in the play-off match. In the semifinals, Lei beat Al Khadrawi 4-1 and Cazacu ended the challenge of Abdulaziz al Abbad by 4-1 margin.
Champion Lei expressed delight in winning the title and appreciated the tournament organisers Oman Table Tennis Committee for the smooth conduct of the event.
Lei, an Ukraine citizen with Chinese origin, wrapped up the final in 40 minutes as his opponent was unable to deliver in crucial moments of the match.
“I played to my strength. This was my first meeting with Cazazu and the match ended in my favour,” Lei, who won a purse of $7,000, said.
Runner-up Cazacu claimed a cheque of $5,000.
In quarterfinal clashes, Lei routed Nekhviadovich of Belarus 4-0, while Cazazu edged Saudi Arabia’s Abdulaziz Bu Shulaybi 4-3 in a match that required all the seven games to decide the winner.
Other semifinalists, Al Khadrawi beat David Hindersson of Denmark 4-1 and Abdulaziz al Abbad prevailed over Egyptian Gamal Ahmed 4-1 in a closely-fought match.
Dr Rasheed bin al Safi al Huraibi, Chairman of the Tender board, was the chief guest for the concluding ceremony in the presence of a number of under-secretaries and OTTC Chairman Abdullah bin Mohammed Bamakhalef. Several officials from the Ministry of Sports Affairs and the executives of the companies sponsoring the tournament — Oman Fibre Optic, Stag, Omantel, Oliban, Air Arabia and Mwasalat.
The chief guest congratulated the winners and participants of the tournament and said the event witnessed high-class matches.
The OTTC chief said the international tournament showcased the capabilities of the Sultanate in hosting big events and it will add to the OTTC experience in the upcoming World Junior League to be hosted by Muscat in February 2018.
“We will follow a systematic approach in hosting these high-profile tournaments. After the Arab Championships, we were confident of hosting top events with the support of our sponsors.”
“Our team is fully equipped for a great World Junior League event here in February.”
And these tournaments will help Omani players to improve their standards by competing with top players and watching them closely, opined Oman coach Mohammed Atoum.
“The Omani players will immensely benefit from the match experience and the tournament as a whole. Watching the high-class matches will help them to improve their game and equip them with the comprehensive knowledge of the sport,” the Jordanian said.
Seven Omani players, among the 20 that took part in the qualifying, progressed to last 64 of the main draw.
Tournament manager Sajjad al Baqir said the OTTC has prepared from last year to organise this event.
“We at OTTC have a long-term planning and vision that we are confident of implementing successfully,” he said.
The five-day tournament saw the participation of 100 players from 20 countries.
The participating countries include hosts Oman, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Ukraine, India, Italy, Pakistan, Bahrain, Poland, Belarus, Czech Republic, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Sudan, Syria, Serbia, the Philippines and Lebanon.
Third-placed Saudi Arabia’s Abdulaziz al Abbad got $3,000 and compatriot Ali al Khadrawi 4-1 earned $1,500. Players who finished from fifth to eighth spots got $1,000 as prize money.