Nigeria will have two representatives in the quarter finals of the Governor’s Cup after Clifford Enosoregbe and Sylvester Emmanuel pulled off stunning victories in their second round matches on Wednesday.
The sparse home spectators must have feared the worst when Henry Atseye and Edward Christopher Anefu fell rather tamely in the early matches, but they were then treated to two early contenders for match of the tournament, with Enosoregbe and Emmanuel supplying the icing on the cake.
Enosoregbe was given a wildcard to get into the main draw of the Governor’s Cup, and the 26-year-old has so far made the most of his opportunity, taking down his eight-seeded opponent 7-6 3-6 6-2 after two hours and twenty minutes.
Both players held serve throughout a tight first set, but the Nigerian dominated the ensuing tie break, sparing Smola just the one point.
Enosoregbe’s level dipped in the second set, with his first serve percentage dropping to 55%, and he was punished by his Polish opponent, who converted the solitary break point of the set to force a decider.
Backed by the few who had made their way to the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Enosoregbe raised his game for one final push. An early break gave the Nigerian a 3-1 advantage, and he rammed home his dominance with another break of serve in what turned out to be the final game of the encounter to take his place in Thursday’s quarter-finals.
If Ensoregbe’s victory over Smola was exciting, 18-year-old Sylvester Emmanuel took it to another level late on Wednesday.
The teenager is part of a band of young talents coming through, and there was plenty to show on Court 3 that with the right support, he could turn out to be something very special.
Emmanuel showed skill and character in equal measure as he recovered from the disappointment of dropping the first set tie break to stun Beninese, Alexis Klegou 6-7 6-1 7-6.
Emmanuel’s response to losing the opening set was to storm through the second set in 40 minutes, breaking his opponent three times to take the match to a gripping final set.
Klegou broke for the 2-1 lead, but Emmanuel wrestled back the break immediately, before squandering a number of opportunities to earn another break in a drawn-out sixth game.
The final set eventually went into a tie break, and that was where Emmanuel really bore his teeth.
The Nigerian rushed to a 6-0 lead, before converting his second match point after three hours and fifteen minutes under the fading lights at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club.
Emmanuel will play Egyptian, Karim-Mohamed Maamoun on Thursday, while Enosoregbe battles India’s Sasi Kumar Mukund.