Thursday, May 27, 2021

Riffice beats top seed, advances to NCAA final

   Six days after helping Florida win the NCAA team title, Sam Riffice will play for the singles crown on Friday.
   The sixth-seeded Riffice, a junior who grew up in Roseville, Calif., in the Sacramento area, beat top-seeded Liam Draxl, a Kentucky sophomore from Canada, 7-6 (5), 2-6, 6-1 in Riffice's adopted hometown of Orlando, Fla. 
   Theoretically, Riffice should have tired in the third set. He played for the ninth consecutive day, and the temperature hit 91 degrees (32.8 Celsius). Riffice is accustomed to Florida's heat and humidity, though.
   Riffice is scheduled to face second-seeded Daniel Rodrigues of South Carolina in an all-Southeastern Conference final at 9 a.m. PDT (live stream). Rodrigues, a sophomore from Portugal, eliminated unseeded Adrian Boitan of Baylor 7-6 (1), 3-1, retired. 
   Rodrigues outlasted Riffice 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in the Gamecock Fall SEC Shootout in Columbia, S.C., last October.
   Riffice, who fell in the second round of doubles, will attempt to join Mark Merklein (1994) and Jeff Morrison (1999) as the only Florida men to win the NCAA singles championship. 
  The last man to earn the NCAA Triple Crown (team, singles and doubles titles in the same year) was Matias Boeker of Georgia in 2001. 
   Rodrigues, who has not dropped a set in his five matches, will try to become the second straight Gamecock to capture the NCAA men's singles title. Paul Jubb claimed the 2019 crown; last year's tournament was canceled because of the pandemic.
   French Open — Sloane Stephens, a 28-year-old Fresno, Calif., product who reached the 2018 final at Roland Garros, drew Carla Suarez Navarro, a 32-year-old Spaniard making her comeback from Hodgkin's lymphoma, in a matchup of former top-10 players.
   Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, is set to play Davis Cup teammate and occasional doubles partner John Isner, seeded 31st, in the first round. 
   The main draw begins Sunday.
   ATP Tour — In the Belgrade (Serbia) Open doubles semifinals, Andre Goransson (University of California, Berkeley, 2014-17) of Sweden and Rafael Matos of Brazil beat Luke Bambridge and Dominic Inglot of Great Britain 7-6 (3), 1-6 [10-4] in a matchup of unseeded teams. 
   Goransson and Matos are set to meet unseeded Jonathan Erlich, 44, of Israel and Andrei Vasilevski of Belarus on Friday. Erlich and Vasilevski edged wild cards Ivan Sabanov and Matej Sabanov of Croatia 6-3, 3-6 [13-11].

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