The ITF World Tennis Tour in Abuja, which held for three weeks in the month of April at the National Tennis Centre, was full of epic moments, thrilling matches, and plenty of memories that will linger for a long, long time.
Here, we take a look back at five matches that kept spectators on the edge of their seats.
Maxime Mora def. Musa Mohammed – R1, Tombim Abuja Open – 10 April, 2019
Maxime Mora of France and 17-year-old Musa Mohammed of Nigeria squared off to produce an absolute first-round thriller at the Tombim Abuja Open.
Mohammed was competing in his first ever main draw match on the ITF World Tennis Tour, and it was against the 22-year-old Frenchman, a one-time ITF Tennis Tour finalist.
Both players left it all out on the court, with Mohammed suffering from cramps in the final set, before Mora prevailed 6-7(7), 6-4, 7-6(6) to reach the second round.
The Nigerian had broken the Frenchman twice in the first set, the second in the eight game for a 5-3 lead, but couldn’t serve it out, leaving the Frenchman to step back in and ensure a tiebreaker. Mohammed would consistently find his best level in the tiebreak, digging deep in the critical stages to clinch the set.
However, in the second set, the 17-year-old Nigerian let slip a 3-1 lead, as Mora broke twice to claim the set and force a decider. The final set proceeded to another tiebreak, and it was there Mora finally overcame Mohammed after almost 3 hours of gruelling tennis.
Jaimee Floyd Angele def. Dan Added – SF, Tombim Abuja Open – 13 April, 2019
Yet another epic encounter is this all-French semi-final showdown between Jaimee Floyd Angele and Dan Added.
Added had come into the match without the loss of a set, while Angele had done well to serve his way through, losing only a set in the process.
Having traded early breaks in the opening set, both men would go on to keep things with serve, forcing both the first and second set into tie-breaks. While Angele took the first with some demonstration of admirable composure, Added powered through that of the second with minimum fuss to force a final set. However, his game crumbled afterwards, as Angele rolled through the third set to seal a 7-6(5), 6-7(3), 6-0 victory in 2 hours and 12 minutes and reach his first final on the ITF World Tennis Tour. Some thanks to the 14 aces he fired during the contest.
Maximilian Neuchrist def. Jaimee Floyd Angele – R2, Dayak Tennis Championship – 18 April 2019
Neuchrist had come into the match on the back of a solid first round victory over Namibia’s Tuki Jacobs, and was hoping to avoid any injury relapse (seeing that he was returning from a 7-month injury-layoff and had retired in the first round of the Tombim Open) and stay on track for a successful title-defense. Angele, meanwhile, had brushed aside Musa Mohammed in straight sets and was looking to put together another strong week, following his run to the final at the Tombim Open the previous week.
However, it was Neuchrist who was better on the day, fending off the barrage of Angele’s powerful serves to prevail 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in just under 2 hours. The 19-year-old Frenchman’s campaign was cut short, despite the 16 aces he powered down.
Danylo Kalenichenko def. Maximilian Neuchrist – QF, Dayak Tennis Championship – 19 April 2019
The day after outlasting Jaimee Floyd Angele in three, Austria’s Maximilian Neuchrist was taken down in three by Danylo Kalenichenko of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian exacted his revenge for a second round loss to the Austrian at this same event last year, and ended his bid for a successful title-defense.
Neuchrist had taken the first set via a tiebreaker, but Kalenichenko leveled matters in the second set via another tiebreaker to force a deciding set. And for the first time in the contest, Neuchrist lost his service game, as Kalenichenko broke in fifth game and remained solid to wrap up a hard-fought 6-7(4), 7-6(1), 6-4 victory in 2 hours and 34 minutes.
Kalenichenko would go on to reach the final, where he came up short against France’s Tom Jomby.
Dan Added def. Arjun Kadhe – R2, GSL Open – 25 April, 2019
India’s Arjun Kadhe, the second seed, went up against Dan Added, who was fresh off back-to-back semifinal appearances (at the Tombim Open and the Dayak Tennis Championship), and both men served up this 2-hour-and-24-minute second round thriller.
Kadhe, having suffered a shock first round exit at the Dayak Tennis Championship the previous week, was hoping to live up to expectations this time, as he was the second highest-ranked player in the main draw. Added on the other hand, was in fine form and aiming for a more impressive run.
And both men began by exchanging breaks early in the first set before guiding it into a tie-breaker, which Kadhe sealed. Added evened the scores in the second set, with his own tiebreak win. Afterwards, it looked as though Kadhe was on course for a comfortable final set win after he raced to a 3-0 lead. But Added found his range just in time, breaking the Indian twice in the set to turn the tables and secure a 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-4 victory.
The Frenchman went on to secure the title that week, his first on the ITF World Tennis Tour, and biggest of his career yet.