Nigeria’s number one player, Sylvester Emmanuel, was at his best form Wednesday as he defeated Oleg Khotkov of Ukraine to book a second round ticket in the 2019 Tombim Abuja Open.
Sylvester enjoyed huge support from the home fans in the $25, 000 prize-money tournament which is officially classed a Nigeria’s Futures I by the world tennis governing body as he raced to a 6-4, 6-2 win on Wednesday afternoon.
It’s a turnaround of fortune for the 21-year-old who had a frustrating experience at the same tournament last year as he failed to cross the first round hurdle.
Emmanuel has been the most promising Nigerian player in the last few years and his form saw him win the Masters’ tournament in 2016 with a two year scholarship to Spain by oil firm, Rainoil, being the reward for his performance.
Ukraine took their pound of flesh on Nigeria in another encounter as Danylo Kalenichenko defeated Joseph Imeh 6-4, 6-3 in another first round game.
An upset-filled day saw top seed Maximillan Neuchrist of Austria bowed out to Peter Kobelt of the USA 7-6(4), 4-3 retired while Frenchman Tom Jomby also retired against another American William Bushamuka with scores at 2-6, 5-2.
Third-seeded Indian, Arjun Kadhe proved the formbook right by beating Spain’s Hugo Largo 6-4, 6-3 while African duo of Benjamin Lock of Zimbabwe and Guy Iradukuda of Burundi recorded wins over Mukhtar Andu of Great Britain and Suraj Prabodh of India 6-0, 6-2 and 7-5, 6-4 respectively.
Jiame Angele of France joined the second round train following a 6-4, 6-3 triumph Joao Sorgi of Brazil.
The Tombim Open marked the first of three ITF World Tennis Tour tournaments at the Nigerian capital with the Dayak Championship and GSL Open scheduled to follow in coming weeks.