The main draw action of the 41st edition of the CBN Senior Open serves off on Monday, with players in all categories, aiming to challenge successfully for the respective titles. In the men’s singles, 64 players, with defending champion Sylvester Emmanuel leading the pack as the top seed, will battle it out for supremacy.
First round action takes centre stage at the National Tennis Centre on Monday, with a host of youngsters looking to make a good account of themselves and the big guns seeking to stamp their authority.
Top seed and defending champion, Sylvester Emmanuel opens against qualifier, Toriola Isiaka. The 21-year-old, who claimed his maiden CBN Open title by beating Abdulmumin Babalola in the final last year, is expected to come through that opening round encounter easily. He could take on Abraham Olatunji or Tochukwu Ezeh in the second round, with 14th seed Bala Musa a possible opponent in the round of 16. 7th seed, Emmanuel Idoko looms in the quarter-finals. Should Emmanuel get through that, then a potential semifinal showdown with either 4th seed, Uche Oparaoji or 2015 champion, Thomas Otu awaits.
Oparaoji, a semi-finalist last year, begins his campaign against Matthew Abamu, while Otu, who’s aiming to reclaim the title he won four years ago, squares off against Amos Michael in the opening round. Barring any slip ups along the way, Otu and Oparaoji will set up a mouthwatering quarter-final contest.
In the third quarter of the draw, third seed, Abdulmumin Babalola begins his bid for a record-equalling 7th CBN Open title against qualifier, Gabriel Friday. Babalola, who reached the last two finals here, is looking to tie David Imonitie’s 28-year-old record of 7 titles won. The 34-year-old could face wildcard, Emmanuel Jebutu or another qualifier, Chiwendu Benjamin in the second round. In the round of 16, a real test might present itself in the form of the talented Musa Mohammed, who won the 2019 Zenith Bank Next Gen Masters. Should Babalola prevail in that encounter, Nigeria’s No.2, Joseph Imeh could be waiting in the semifinals.
Imeh is seeking his third straight national title, having clinched the Rainoil Open title in Lagos and Dala Hard Court title in Kano last year. He’s currently on a terrific run on the national scene and will be looking to go one better at this event, having reached the final in 2017, where he lost to Abdulmumin Babalola. The 21-year-old, perched in the bottom quarter of the draw, takes on Emmanuel Ikakah in the opening round and faces John Henry or Hassan Jibrin in the second round, that’s provided he gets past Ikakah. 13th seed, Paul Emmanuel is a possible round of 16 opponent, while 5th seed Emmanuel Sunday or 2013 runner-up, Clifford Enosoregbe are potential quarterfinal opponents.
34-year-old Shehu Lawal, who’s bidding for a 4th CBN Open title and first since 2007, will meet qualifier, Abubakar Saminu in the first round, with a second round encounter against either Isaac Attah or Abubakar Gingiri on the cards.
Also, Sulaiman Ibrahim, who was the Most Outstanding Player at this year’s CBN Open Junior event after his runner-up finish there, received a wildcard for this week’s event and will certainly be hoping for a great start when he takes on Ikechukwu Iloputa in the first round.
The CBN Junior Under-16 boys champion, David Dawariye, who also received a wildcard, goes head-to-head with Anthony Leo, while another wildcard, Jebutu Emmanuel, a runner-up at the Zenith Bank Next Gen Masters earlier this month, faces qualifier, Chiwendu Benjamin.
The 2019 CBN Open is live from the National Tennis Centre, Abuja from 24 – 29 June.