French-Nigerian Calvin Hemery scaled the hurdle of Serbian Pedja Krstin to book a spot in Saturday’s final of the GSL Open Nigeria F3 Futures in Abuja. His next opponent is unseeded Christopher Diaz-Figueroa of Guatemala, who upset second seed Brayden Schnur of Canada 7-6 (5) 3-6, 6-1.
An enthralling and event-filled match on Centre Court saw the world number 279 top seed served out the match with back-to-back aces for a 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4) 6-4 win over the fourth-seed who triumphed in their meeting at the Dayak Championship Nigeria F2 Futures six days earlier.
Both players held to their serves all through the first set which was a contrast to their last meeting where there were three straight breaks; and it was Hemery who came out top of a fiercely fought tie-break 7-5 with the Serbian sending his shot to the net.
With his dad, Eno Henshaw-Aigbekaen among the spectators, Hemery enjoyed full support from the fans and he broke his opponent in the second game to lead 2-0 but Krstin fought back to win the next three games cancelling Hemery’s break in the third game.
The game dragged to 5-5 with no further break until Krtin broke to lead 6-5. More drama was to follow as Hemery, down 30-0 won four points in a row to send the set to another tie break.
The 22-year-old then cruised to 3-0 lead but he soon saw himself trailing 5-4 following up a double fault with an unforced error allowing Krtin to eventually level up the match 7-4 by finishing with a low shot.
Hemery got off the mark impressively in the deciding set breaking Krstin, the world no 346, from the start but he was broken back on the fourth game third. Another tie break looked imminent until the eleventh game when Hemery broke and this time he left no margin for error as he served out the set to love with double aces.
With defeats at the finals of the 2016 Lagos Governor’s Cup and the Dayak Championship last weekend, Hemery will hope to be third-time lucky in Nigeria as he seeks to head to the French Open on a glittering note following his triumph at the USA F15 Futures in Florida three weeks ago.