TULSA, Okla. Top-seeded Somdev Devvarman (Chennai, India) advanced to the final of the 2008 NCAA Singles Championship with a 6-4, 7-6 (3) victory over Stanford’s Alex Clayton at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center. He will look to win the NCAA Singles Championship for the second consecutive year on Monday.
Devvarman, the 2007 champion and 2006 runner-up, becomes the first player since Northwestern’s Marty Riessen (1962-64) to reach three consecutive NCAA singles finals. The win was Devvarman’s 17th career NCAA Singles Championship victory, extending his tournament record (since the singles tournament split from the team tournament in 1977). He improves to 43-1 this season in singles and has won his last 35 consecutive matches.
“Every time I step on the court I don’t think about my streak, I don’t think about what record is on the line, I just think about who I am playing and how I can find a way to beat them,” said Devvarman. “I think that is why I have done pretty well this season, and I have my last college match tomorrow. I am going to come out with the same attitude and leave it all on the court.”
In the opening set, Clayton, the ITA National Freshman of the Year, went up an early break to take a 3-1 lead. Devvarman broke back in the ensuing game to get back on serve and after holding his serve, he broke Clayton again to take a 4-3 lead. Devvarman held that one-break advantage to win the opening set 6-4.
““He was serving 3-1, 40-15 if I recall right,” said Devvarman. “He made a couple of errors, I hit a couple of good shots and found a way to break back, and before I knew it I was serving for the first set. I found a way to win that set.”
Devvarman jumped out to an early lead in the second set, breaking Clayton’s serve in the opening game. However, Clayton broke to get back on serve at 2-2. With the set tied at 5-5, Devvarman had a pair of break points, but Clayton fought them off to hold serve. After Devvarman held in the ensuing game, the set came to a tiebreaker. In the breaker, Clayton went up an early mini-break and led 3-1. Devvarman got back the mini-break at 2-3 and followed with a pair of aces to take a 4-3 lead. He won both points on Clayton’s serve to take a 6-3 lead and followed with another ace to close out the breaker and the match.
“Last year I had a really tough three-set match in the semifinals against [Illinois’] Kevin Anderson,” said Devvarman. “It was also very hot, and I am glad to be done in two today. Other than that, I have always taken pretty much every match the same way, big or small. I try to hydrate, keep myself calm and relaxed, and try to go out and perform at my best level at every single match. That isn’t going to change from last year, and hopefully I’ll do the same thing tomorrow.”
Devvarman will play J.P. Smith of Tennessee in the final. Smith, who is unseeded, topped Andre Begemann of Pepperdine 6-2, 6-4 in the other semifinals. The final will begin at 4 p.m. CT (5 p.m. ET) and will be televised by the Tennis Channel on a tape-delay basis. There has been no announcement yet on when the match will air on the network.