SPORTS


Iranian Noshan Alamian sees off brother Nima for gold

Baku, May 19, AZERTAC

Noshan Alamian beat his younger brother Nima 4-3 in the table tennis men's singles final on Friday to claim Iran's 20th gold medal of the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games.

The 25-year-old came through an entertaining encounter in Baku, after Turkey's reigning European champion Melek Hu had brushed aside home hope Ning Zhing 4-0 to win the women's singles title at the Sarhadchi Arena.

From the start of the match it was clear that the siblings were evenly-matched, despite Noshan sitting 52 places higher than Nima in the world rankings at number 76.

It was the older man that edged into an early lead, by winning the first game 13-11 at the third time of asking.

Nima, 24, hit back though with an excellent second, in which he broke down the forehand of his left-handed opponent with regularity and made it 11-7.

Noshan, who reached the last 32 at the 2012 Olympics in London, recovered after blowing a three-point lead with an 11-7 game of his own to move back in front.

The 128th-ranked Nima then returned to the aggressive style that served him well in the second game, as the two men continued their slugfest.The Alamians, who will play together in Saturday's team competition, were not giving an inch to each other as Nima levelled again with a game to eight.

But he threw away a 9-6 advantage in the fifth, as Noshan opened up with some big forehands to move within a game of gold as it finished 12-10.

A pattern had developed and it continued as Nima fought back to force a decider by edging a dramatic sixth game 16-14 in sudden death.

But he conceded a two-point lead and his brother made him pay with a glorious backhand at the end of a long match-point rally to win the final game 11-9 and secure the gold medal.

Qatari Ping Li rounded off the top three after beating Turkey's Li Ahmet 4-1 in the clash for bronze.

Earlier in the session, Hu saved two game points in a dramatic opener, which ended when Ning sent two forehands long as it finished 13-11.

Despite being cheered on by an enthusiastic crowd, Ning started to struggle in the second game.

The 28-year-old Hu totally dominated and doubled her lead with some fierce shots that her opponent could not lay a bat on at all.

The Fenerbahce player wrapped it up 11-4 in just a few minutes to close in on her second successive Azeri scalp, after seeing off Wang Miao 4-1 in the semi-finals.

Ning refound her rhythm in the third game, but after two straight points forced sudden death, Hu repaid the favour to take it 12-10.

The world number 17 was far too good for the 17-year-old Ning and she closed out the match 11-4 with four points on the trot.

The Chinese-born player's victory delivered a crucial gold for her adopted country in their battle with the hosts to finish top of the overall medals table.

Wang made it two home players on the podium with a 4-1 victory over Iranian Neda Shahsavari in the bronze-medal match.

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