WTT Singapore Smash 2024: Izaac Quek can't repeat last year's giant-killing run, as he falls at the first hurdle

Singapore paddler is unable to adapt to veteran opponent's tactical switches, still has last-16 ties in men's and mixed doubles

Singapore paddler Izaac Quek in action against Egypt's Omar Assar at the WTT Singapore Smash 2024. (PHOTO: WTT)
Singapore paddler Izaac Quek in action against Egypt's Omar Assar at the WTT Singapore Smash 2024. (PHOTO: WTT)

SINGAPORE — He had thrilled the home crowd with a giant-killing run at last year's WTT Singapore Smash. But on Monday (11 March), Izaac Quek's men's singles campaign at this year's tournament ended in the opening round of 64 - ironically, by a giant of a man.

Egypt's world No.22 Omar Assar stood at an imposing 1.96m tall, and the veteran 32-year-old proved to be an insurmountable obstacle for world No.55 Quek, as the Singaporean paddler succumbed 11-3, 5-11, 7-11, 4-11 in 28 minutes at the OCBC Arena.

It was a tough lesson in front of the home crowd for the 17-year-old, who had already won three golds at the 2023 SEA Games in Cambodia.

"Definitely a little disappointed that I couldn't repeat my run last year," he said after his loss. "I started off well, thanks to the encouragement from the crowd, but my opponent was very experienced and quickly changed his tactics.

"Unfortunately I was unable to react well enough, and committed many unforced errors. It's something which I definitely have to work hard at in order to keep improving myself."

Men's doubles, mixed doubles ties coming up for Quek

Quek will have to pick himself up quickly as he has both the men's doubles and mixed doubles ties coming up. He and Koen Pang will be facing Argentina's Horacio Cifuentes and Santiago Lorenzo in the men's doubles round of 16, while in the mixed doubles, he and Zhou Jingyi will be up against Romania's Ovidiu Ionescu and Bernadette Szocs in the last-16.

With Clarence Chew losing to German great Timo Boll 5-11, 11-9, 6-11, 5-11 on Monday evening, all Singapore paddlers have been eliminated from singles competitions.

Meanwhile, most of China’s top paddlers - including defending women’s singles champion and world No. 1 Sun Yingsha, world No. 4 Wang Yidi and men’s world No. 2 Wang Chuqin - breezed through their opening rounds.

The only major upset came from South Korean veteran Lee Sang-su, who continued his giant-killing act by knocking out world No. 4 Lin Gaoyuan 13-11, 12-14, 11-8, 11-9.

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