With a feisty and aggressive display, sensational George Ato Darko overturned the odds to beat Jeff Bargabasseh to be crowned the new champion of the McDan Opem Tennis Championship that ended at the Centre Court of the Accra Sports Stadium on Saturday.
He ended Bargabasseh’s rein with two straight sets victory of 7-5, 6-4.
Watched by an enthusiastic crowd that included Minister of Youth and Sports, Alhaji Ahmed Mustapha, former Ghana Tennis Federation (GTF) chairman, Jeff Abeasi, Darko rallied back with zest to win the five straight games to win the first set after trailing 2-5.
It was a moment the former champion would want to forget quickly.
He led 2-1 before breaking Darko twice to extend the lead to 5-2 to send his supporters into wild jubilation.
But Darko fought back gamely and also broke Bargabasseh twice to draw parity at 5-5 and returned to win the last two games to win the set.
In a spirit of ‘champion die hard’, Darko resumed the second set with gusto.
Though he kept a slim 4-3 lead after the first seven games, Darko emerged the stronger finisher again after breaking Darko to take a 5-4 lead.
The next round of games became a win or bust for Bargabasseh but with Darko firing shots to both ends of the court leading to a 40-15 score, Bargabasseh knew a complete comeback was not possible.
And with his fans chanting, he finished in style with a forehand shot which Bargabasseh returned out to surrender his crown to Darko.
However, Francisca Nyarko successfully defended her trophy after beating experienced Kate Coleman 6-4, 6-3 to remain the ladies champion.
For most part of the game, Nyarko remained at the receiving end of Coleman’s strong passing shots which momentarily appeared to have unsettled the champion.
But Nyarko capitalized on Coleman’s poor serves to break twice to win the first set.
Both shared honours even in the second set and kept it close at each other until Coleman failed to progress again at 4-3. The game at this stage was dominated by Nyarko to win 6-3.
Darko received a cash prize of GH¢ 2,000, rackets, set of tennis shoes while Nyarko took home a cash prize of GH¢ 1,000, set of tennis shoes, rackets.
Special prizes were also presented to losing quarter and semi finalists.
By Andrew Nortey