With two weeks to go until the start of the Tombim Abuja Open- one of three events for the ITF World Tennis Tour in Abuja, we take a look at how past winners of the $25,000 men’s event have fared.

Matija Pecotic

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Pecotic won both legs of the Tombim Abuja Open in 2015 and backed it up immediately with a title-winning run at an ITF tourney in Winston-Salem, USA, beating Tennys Sandgren in the final. Another title would come for the Croatian in Antalya, Turkey in September of the same year. The following month, Pecotic posted a runner-up finish at a Challenger event in China, and then, reached a career-high ATP ranking of 206 in November.

After enduring a dismal 2016, the Croatian played in the qualifying rounds of the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon in 2017, without coming through. His last match til date was in the first round of qualifying at the ATP 250 event in Umag, Croatia, in July, 2017, where he lost.

Antal Van Der Duim
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Van Der Dum receives the Tombim Open trophy on Centre Court of the National Tennis Centre, Abuja in 2016.

Antal Van Der Duim lifted the Tombim Open title in the first leg in 2016, defeating Mohamed Safwat in the final. The Dutchman would go on to win the Dayak Tennis Championships in the third week of events. Following his successful outing in Abuja that year, Van Der Duim made a string of semifinal finishes on the ITF World Tour in France, his home nation, Holland, and Italy. In October same year, he reached a career-high ATP ranking of 214.

He would make a run to the final at Velgu-Foncenex in France in January, 2018, before a semifinal showing in Greece in February. The following month, he played his last tournament til date at an ITF event in Villers Les Nancy, France, where he lost in the first round.

Mohamed Safwat
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Safwat strikes a pose with his trophy alongside his coach (L) at the National Tennis Centre, Abuja in 2016.

Safwat of Egypt became the first African to win the Tombim Open, when he defeated Aldin Setkic to lift the title of the second leg in 2016. He would reach the semifinals and go one better to make the final at the Dayak Tennis Championships thereafter – in the second and third week, respectively. Safwat moved up the rungs to the Challenger Tour after his outing in Abuja, and reached the final of the Kenitra Challenger in Morocco (lost to Maximilian Marterer). By so doing, he became the first Egyptian since 1997 to reach the final of a Challenger tournament.

In 2017, the Egyptian played in the qualifying rounds of the Australian Open and the French Open, but couldn’t quite get the headway. In 2018, however, he qualified as a lucky loser to play in the main draws of the French Open, where he lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the first round. He was the first man from Egypt to play in a Grand Slam tennis tournament’s main singles draw in 22 years. The 28-year-old is currently 6 places shy of the world’s Top 200, and is currently Egypt’s No.1 player.

Earlier in March this year, he made a run to the quarterfinals of a Challenger tourney in Zhuhai, China.

Brayden Schnur

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The Canadian won the Tombim title in 2017, defeating Fabiano de Paula in the final, before registering back-to-back semifinal finishes at the Dayak and GSL Opens. Afterwards, he took to the Challenger Tour. In 2018, he almost made it to the main draws of Wimbledon, but fell short in the third round of qualifying. That run was meshed in between a couple of semi-final finishes on the Challenger Tour.

Schnur would begin his 2019 season with a bang, reaching the final of the New Port Beach Challenger in January. The following month, he had the biggest outing of his career, when he put together solid performances to reach the final of the New York Open – an ATP 250 event (lost to Reilly Opelka). Before then, he had never won a match on the ATP Tour. After reaching the final, his ATP ranking reached a career high 107.

The 23-year-old moved back to the Challenger Tour, where he recently finished as a semifinalist in Shenzhen, China.

João Menezes

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Aged 21, Brazil’s João Menezes became the youngest player ever to win the Tombim Open. He backed that up with a runner-up finish and another title-triumph at the Dayak Tennis Championships and GSL Open, respectively. Menezes, too, would move up the rungs of the professional ladder to the Challenger Tour after his memorable outing in Abuja. However, he didn’t find much luck there, with his best run being a round of 16 finish in Morelos, Mexico in February this year.

The Brazilian would return to the ITF World Tour, reaching the semifinals in Bakersfield, California in March.

From April 8-15, the Tombim Open will again take centre stage in the city of Abuja, as players from all over the world compete for glory, a share of the prize-money, and vital ranking points.