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Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Former Collegians Deliver Davis Cup Victories for United States and Canada; Navarro Avenges Painful Loss, Reaches First WTA 500 Quarterfinal; Collins' Win in San Diego Completes Impressive Day for NCAA Champions

Davis Cup World Group round robin play began yesterday at various sites, with the United States team in Split Croatia and Canada in Bologna Italy. 

Defending champion Canada was taking on the Italians, who were definitely the favorites with two top 40 players, and Canada without Felix Auger-Aliassime. Denis Shapovalov, who did not play the US Open due to injury, made the trip to Italy, but did not play today. Instead it was two former All-Americans, not far removed from their collegiate days, who took on Lorenzo Sonego(ATP No. 38) and Lorenzo Musetti(ATP No. 18) in the singles, with Alexis Galarneau and Gabe Diallo both posting surprising straight-sets victories. The 24-year-old Galarneau, an All-American at NC State in 2020 and 2021 and currently 200 in the ATP rankings, defeated Sonego 7-6(8), 6-4 to give Canada a 1-0 lead. Then the 21-year-old Diallo, an All-American at Kentucky in 2021 and 2022 and currently 158 in the ATP rankings, beat Musetti 7-5, 6-4 to clinch the win for the Canadians. The other two teams in Canada's Group are Sweden and Chile; Chile defeated Sweden in their match yesterday.

For more on the Canadians' victory, see this article from the Davis Cup website.

The United States team, playing its first match with Bob Bryan as captain, has three ATP Top 40 singles players and two Top 5 doubles players, with the latter coming through with a tense victory to take the match over Croatia 2-1. Tommy Paul(ATP No. 13) did not play, with UCLA's 2016 NCAA singles and doubles champion Mackenzie McDonald, currently No. 39, starting off the match at No. 2 singles with a 6-4, 6-2 win over 2023 Roland Garros boys champion Dino Prizmic. Frances Tiafoe, currently No. 11, lost to 2019 NCAA finalist Borna Gojo, a hero for Croatia in last year's Davis Cup, 6-4, 7-6(6) at No. 1 singles to push the match to a deciding doubles contest.

Austin Krajicek, NCAA doubles champion at Texas A&M in 2011 and currently No. 1 in the world, and Rajeev Ram, NCAA doubles champion in 2003 at Illinois, who won his third straight US Open men's doubles title last week, were up against two other top doubles players: ATP No. 2 Ivan Dodig, who paired with Krajicek for the Roland Garros title this year, and Mate Pavic, a former ATP No. 1 in doubles. Krajicek and Ram took the first set in a tiebreaker, lost the second set in a tiebreaker, but finally got a break of serve to go up 3-1 and closed it out with a second break to post a 7-6(5), 6-7(3), 6-2 victory.

The United States will play the Netherlands on Thursday, with Finland the fourth team in their group. The top two finishers in the four groups move on to the quarterfinals in November in Malaga Spain. Spain, playing without Carlos Alcaraz, lost its first match to the Czech Republic in their group meeting 3-0.

For more on the United States' win today, see this article from the Davis Cup website. 

In another notable result for an NCAA champion, 2021 women's singles winner Emma Navarro of Virginia reached the quarterfinals of a WTA 500 event for the first time today at the Cymbiotika San Diego Open, and given the opponent, it was no doubt an especially satisfying win.

Navarro, who qualified over the weekend, defeated Jasmine Paolini of Italy in the first round and in today's second round beat fellow qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 7-5, 6-4. Sasnovich, who had beaten No. 6 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland in the first round, had met Navarro in the first round of the WTA 250 in Cleveland last month. Trailing 5-0 in the third set, Sasnovich won seven games in a row, saving a match point in her 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 win.

The 22-year-old Navarro is now up to a career-high of 52 in the WTA rankings. 

Danielle Collins, the 2014 and 2016 NCAA singles champion, also at Virginia, joined Navarro in the quarterfinals, defeating Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 tonight. Collins reached the semifinals of the San Diego tournament last year.  Sofia Kenin also advanced to the quarterfinals, defeating wild card Katie Volynets 1-6, 6-4, 6-2. Kenin will play Anastasia Potapova of Russia, who took out top seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia 6-5, 7-6(4) today; Navarro's quarterfinal opponent is No. 3 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece; Collins faces the winner of tonight's match between Sloane Stephens and No. 2 seed Caroline Garcia of France.