DUBAI // Ibrahim Hassan continued his relentless domination of GCC table tennis, winning his sixth consecutive men's single title last night in a thrilling final at Al Nasr Club. The Kuwaiti, Gulf's top player for a long time, quelled a spirited challenge from Saudi Arabia's Abdulaziz al Abbar, prevailing 4-2.
"He is the king of Gulf table tennis," said his team-mate Hussein al Bahraini. "And I don't see anyone seriously challenging him in the near future." The UAE's Rashid Abdul Hamid won the bronze, brushing aside Saudi Arabia's Khaled al Harbi 4-0 in the third place play-off. Qatar's Ahmed Muthanni won the junior singles title, defeating compatriot Fahad al Mughaini. The cadet's final was an all-Bahrain affair with Mohammed Abbas prevailing over Louai Jamal.
Al Abbar, star of Saudi Arabia triumph in the men's team event, had earlier ended Hamid's hopes of a double, swamping the home favourite 4-0 in the semis. Hamid, who won the doubles crown with Mohammed Rashid on Wednesday night, failed to recreate his magic yesterday. His game was strewn with errors and the experienced Saudi campaigner seized his opportunities to the fullest. "I tried my best and kept fighting, but things just didn't go my way," said Hamid, shaking his head in disbelief. "I was just very, very tired.
"I was hoping to win the second gold for the country, though I knew it would be tough as all the top-four seeds had reached the semis." A bit exhausted after his efforts in the doubles, Hamid had made a tough start to his challenge in the singles after getting a first-round bye. He was taken the distance by Saudi Arabian Osama al Muhaibis in the second round, but did better in the quarterfinals to sweep aside Bahraini Anwar Makki.
"I started with a very, very tough game, but I survived to win," he said. "I was a bit tired after the doubles, but stayed mentally tough. The quarterfinal was much better, but the semi-finals was just bad." Hamid was UAE's only medal-winner in the singles event of the championship. None of the juniors or cadets made it to the last four. His compatriot in the men's team, Faisal Abbas, lost in the first round to Saudi Arabia's Naif al Jeddaie.
His doubles-winning partner, Rashid, defeated Ali al Hassan in the second round after getting a bye for the first, but fell at the next hurdle to Saudi Khaled al Harbi. @Email:email@example.com