Dala Hard Court: Adegoke sets up final showdown with Blessing Samuel as Uche Oparaoji falls to pieces

Top seed, Sarah Adegoke raced into the final of the Dala Hard Court Tennis C’ship after a clinical display over Christie Agugbom. Adegoke led 6-4, 5-2 before the 35-year-old Agugbom called it quits due to injury.

Agugbom had beaten Adegoke in the semifinals of the Rainoil Open in Lagos last week, but couldn’t keep up with the imposing play of her 21-year-old opponent before she was forced to retire.

Adegoke, who was champion at this event in 2014, has dropped just nine games as she’s brushed aside her three opponents and has been in dazzling form on her way to the final. Despite the 21-year-old completing one match so far, there’s no denying her outstanding play as she’s been well ahead of her opponents before they retire midway as a result of injury.

But a tougher test awaits in the final, where she will play defending champion, Blessing Samuel. Samuel outclassed Patience Onebamhoin 6-1, 6-1 to reach her third consecutive national final. The 27-year-old has been on an absolute tear in national tourneys since the Vemp Open in September where she clinched the title, through the Rainoil Open last week and now here in Kano, racking up 13 consecutive wins in the process.

Samuel, a four-time champion, will fancy her chances against Adegoke in Friday’s final, given her sizzling form and history at the Kano Club. She beat Adegoke in last year’s final and will hope to do the same again to close out the year on a high.

Meanwhile, in the men’s field, Uche Oparaoji, who had only last week pushed Joseph Imeh hard in the semifinals of the Rainoil Open in Lagos, choked and fell against the same man in the quarterfinals of the Dala Hard Court in Kano today.

Oparaoji, a semifinalist in 2017, never had a sniff against Imeh, who dominated proceedings from start to finish, ripping into the lefthander, who had next to nothing to offer, to win 6-0, 6-0 and reach the semifinals.

Imeh, who is on the back of a title triumph at the Rainoil Open and hasn’t dropped a set so far, will next take on Nonso Madueke, who outclassed Emmanuel Idoko 6-1, 6-1.

Madueke is enjoying a fine week in the ancient city, having defeated Musa Mohammed, Paul Emmanuel, and Emmanuel Idoko, all in straight sets to reach his first semifinal this year. Imeh could, however, prove to be insurmountable in the semis for the 25-year-old.

Elsewhere, second seed, Sylvester Emmanuel recovered from a lapse in concentration to overcome Emmanuel Sunday 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 and stay on course for a third title at the Kano Club.

Emmanuel, who clinched two national titles this year, will, in Friday’s semi-finals, face Abdulmumin Babalola, who thrashed Musa Bala 6-1, 6-0.

Both men met in the final of the CBN Open in June in Abuja, where Emmanuel claimed victory in three sets.

Can he once again upset the 33-year-old lefthander and reach his third final of the season, or will Babalola get his revenge and stay on course for an unprecedented sixth Dala Hard Court crown?

In the doubles event, the pair of Joseph Imeh and Christian Paul continued their brilliant partnership, beating Michael Chima and Ikechukwu Iloputa 6-3, 6-4 to reach the final. Imeh and Paul will seek to cap off a memorable week in the doubles when they take on the duo of Henry Atseye and Nonso Madueke in Friday’s final.

Atseye and Madueke kept up their impressive chemistry with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Sunday Emmanuel and Uche Oparaoji.

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