Third seed Abdulmumin Babalola and qualifier John Dickson recovered from slow starts to reach the second round of the Central Bank of Nigeria Open on Tuesday at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja.
Six-times champion Babalola defeated qualifier Gabriel Friday 7-6 3-0 after the latter retired during the second set due to injury.
Friday started the game brightly and looked like capable of creating an upset before Babalola broke him in the 12th game and forced him to retire.
On Court 3, qualifier Dickson, who played three games in the preliminary qualifying stage, showed resilience to defeat 37th seeded Odeyemi Opeyemi 3-6 6-1 6-0.
Dickson, ranked 74 on the National Ranking, was participating in only his second CBN Open’s main draw.
Babalola, 34, will now face Emmanuel Jetutu in the second round for an attempt to win the tournament for a seventh time.
In other games, Shehu Lawal dispatched Abubakar Saminu 6-2 6-0, while Isaac Attah defeated Abubakar Gingiri 6-4 6-2.
Clifford Enosoregbe was made to sweat in the second set but was able to beat George Abamu 6-0 6-4.
Dickson told the News Agency of Nigeria after his victory that persistence gave him victory over a more experienced Opeyemi.
He said: “Actually, it was tough but I had the zeal that I could push through in spite of losing the first set.
“It was belief that earned me the game today.
“I was consistent, especially with my backhand, and I was putting the ball in his weaker side.
“I was more physical and it helped my game.
“Opeyemi is more familiar with the tournament than I am and his experience showed but I fought and gave him a match.”
In the women’s game, two-times champion Christie Agugbom and top seed Blessing Samuel both advanced into the second round.
Agugbom, who won the tournament’s 2008 and 2014 editions, dispatched Oiza Yakubu, while Samuel had to rally to defeat rising star Omolade Aderemi 7-5 6-4.
NAN reports that a total of N8.2 million is up for grabs as prize money in the 41st edition of the CBN Senior Open Tennis Championship.
Winners in the men’s and women’s singles categories will smile home with N700,000 each, while N105,000 has been earmarked for winners of the men’s and women’s doubles per player.
The CBN Open ends on Saturday.