Defending champion, Sylvester Emmanuel knocked out Nonso Madueke 6-4, 6-4 to set up a blockbuster semifinal showdown with Thomas Otu. Meanwhile, Joseph Imeh powered past Emmanuel Sunday to set up another blockbuster semifinal showdown with Abdulmumin Babalola- a repeat of the 2017 final.
A break in the third game of the first set gave Emmanuel a 3-2 lead against Madueke, and that was all the top seed needed to take the set. In the second set, things went with serve until the fifth game, where Emmanuel again broke, this time for a 3-2 lead. He would hold firm to close out the set and book his place in the semifinals.
Thomas Otu will be all that stands between Emmanuel and back-to-back finals in this event, after Otu produced a clinical performance to beat Shehu Lawal 6-1, 6-4 and make the semis.
Having eased to a 6-1 first set win, Otu began the second set strongly, breaking in the third game for a 2-1 win. Lawal would get a break of his in the fifth game, but that couldn’t stop Otu, as the 2015 champion broke in the ninth game for 5-4 and consolidated with a hold to remain on course for his first national title since winning the Dala Hard Court Championship two years ago in Kano.
In another show of power hitting and sheer brilliance, second seed, Joseph Imeh outclassed Emmanuel Sunday 6-3, 6-3 to advance to the semifinals. Imeh claimed an all-important break in the fourth game of the first set and stayed firm to close out the set. He began the second set with another break, but Sunday broke back almost immediately to draw level.
It wouldn’t take long before Imeh gained another break to go 3-2 up. And then another in the ninth game to seal an emphatic victory.
The 21-year-old will now take on 6-time champion, Abdulmumin Babalola in a repeat of the 2017 final. Babalola played solidly against Godgift Timibra to register a 6-1, 6-4 victory. The 34-year-old broke twice in the first set to take it, and then broke Timibra for the third time in the match in the very first game of the second set for a 1-0 lead. Despite Timibra’s best effort to find a way to level matters, Babalola kept his nose in front to secure victory.
17 years after winning his very first title at this event, Babalola will look to, once again, get one over Imeh and stay right on track for a record-equalling 7th CBN Open title.