Nigeria’s Melissa Ifidzhen missed out on a main draw spot in the second leg of the Governor’s Cup after suffering a 6-2 1-6 6-4 loss to Serbia’s Draginja Vukovic in the final qualifying round on Sunday afternoon.
Ifidzhen made a poor start to the contest, dropping her serve twice to fall 0-3 down, and that set the tone for the rest of the opening set, as the more consistent Vukovic raced through 6-2.
The match seemed destined for a quick finish when Vukovic earned a fourth consecutive break to open the second set, but Ifidzhen hit back immediately, swinging away from the back of the court to get back on serve.
That sparked a run of eight straight games from the Nigerian, who began to dominate with her heavy forehand, while steadying her previously dodgy backhand.
The Nigerian stormed through the second set in double quick time, and opened up a 2-0 lead in the deciding set.
There appeared to be only one possible winner at that point, with Ifidzhen seemingly unable to put a foot wrong, but there was to be another swing in momentum, as Vukovic engineered a way back into the contest.
The re-energized Serbian suddenly rediscovered her accuracy, especially on the backhand side, luring Ifidzhen into more unforced errors; and from looking down and out, Vukovic found herself serving for the match at 5-3.
There was to be one final twist to the tale, as Ifidzhen superbly battled back from 40-0 down to break the Vukovic serve, but her serving woes returned in the next game.
Vukovic earned another match point when Ifidzhen sent down a double fault, and the Serbian completed the victory with a superb backhand pass down the line.
This will go down as one of the most painful losses in Ifidzhen’s career, and her disappointment after the match was apparent as the usually reserved Nigerian smashed her racket into the ground in agony.