The Lagos Open International Tennis Championship will get underway in a fortnight and as all attention slowly turn to the $100,000-prize-money-ITF-Futures tournament, we round up five players who are bound to dominate in the women’s field.
1. Conny Perrin
Switzerland’s Conny Perrin has been quite successful on the ITF Pro Circuit over the years. She has won 12 titles; amongst them are three consecutive singles titles at the then Governor’s Cup in Lagos.
This year, good results for Perrin have been few and far between. The Swiss, save a run to the final at ITF events in Loughborough and Surbiton, hasn’t really done much. She failed to get past the qualifying rounds of WTA events and also the qualifiers of the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.
Presently ranked 148th in the world, the Swiss will now seek to claim her first title of the year at the Lagos Open, just like she has done for the past three years. Looks like Lagos is one of the places where she’s found succor in recent years, and it doesn’t seem like that’s about to change.
2. Deniz Khazaniuk
Deniz Khazaniuk will return to Lagos as a defending champion. The 23-year-old defeated Conny Perrin to win the first leg of the women’s singles in October last year and then fell short in the final of the second leg as Perrin exacted revenge.
This year, Khazaniuk endured a poor start to the season, but found redemption in Osprey, Florida in May, where she won her 20th ITF title. But she has struggled to replicate that success on the WTA tour as she’s been unable to get past qualifying rounds into the main draws, even the US Open where she fell in the first round of qualifiers.
Currently ranked 228 in the world and with a possibility of being seeded second for the Lagos Open, the Isreali will be all guns blazing for a second ITF title this year and 21st in total when she arrives Lagos to compete for the third time in her career.
3. Valeriya Strakhova
A quarter-finalist at the Lagos Open in 2016 and 2017, Ukraine’s Strakhova will arrive Lagos bidding to better her previous performances.
This season has blown hot and really cold for the 23-year-old. On the ITF Pro Circuit, she won her first title of the season and 12th of her career at a clay court tourney in Denain, France. That triumphant run was meshed in between two semifinal appearances – in Antalya, Turkey in March and Leipzig, Germany, in August.
While Strakhova, now ranked 287th, hasn’t been able to deliver the goods since that semifinal run in August, you can be sure of an electric performance when she comes into Lagos.
4. Fanny Ostlund
Fanny Ostlund has played in just five tournaments on the ITF Pro Circuit all year. The 21-year-old Swede reached the quarterfinals in Antalya and a sensational run to the semis of the just concluded $15,000 tourney in Cairo, Egypt. Ostlund, having peaked at 533 in October last year, has taken steps back to 716 in the world. With a return to Lagos now certain, she will seek to claim a first ITF title in over a year and make up for her disappointing run in Onikan last year where she fell out in the first round of both legs.
5. Nastja Kolar
Slovenia’s Nastja Kolar has had quite a year so far. She started the year with a run to the semifinals in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt and capped that off with three straight losses. But the 24-year-old bounced back to win 15 consecutive matches and claim three ITF titles on the bounce. During that sensational run, she dropped just two sets.
Kolar is now enduring a poor spell of form. She has not won more than two matches in a tournament since clinching her third title this season. Currently ranked 365, and likely to be seeded fifth, Kolar will arrive Lagos with the potential to turn everything around.
The Lagos Open will serve off Monday, 1 October — 13 October at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan.