ATHENS, Ga. - Duke's freshman Henrique Cunha won by retirement in the NCAA Singles Quarterfinals on Saturday while the Blue Devils' top-ranked doubles team was eliminated.
Cunha, the No. 1 seed in the tournament and No. 2 player in the country, was going up against No. 9 Robert Farah of Southern California. The match was on serve with Cunha leading 2-1 when Farah suffered an injury. Cunha hit a winner down the line that Farah chased after and suffered a leg injury.
After an injury timeout the two players went back out on the court but Farah had limited movement as Cunha closed out the break to take a 3-1 lead. He quickly served out to go up 4-1 and Farah was forced to retire sending Cunha to the semifinals. Next up he will face No. 13 Bradley Klahn of Stanford University for a chance to play in the national championship match.
"It is really unfortunate that Farah got hurt because you never want to win a match like that," said head coach Ramsey Smith. "The first four games of the match were unbelievable and a high level of tennis. Both players were playing very well and had a ton of confidence. Cunha was playing the best tennis he has played all tournament and is excited for the semifinals tomorrow."
With the win Cunha improved to 39-5 on the year and 27-3 against ranked opponents. He has now claimed victories over seven top 10 opponents and extends his winning streak to 24 consecutive matches.
Cunha's run in doubles with teammate Reid Carleton came to an end with a three-set loss to No. 14 Drew Courtney and Michael Shabaz of Virginia 6-4, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3. It was the fourth time the two doubles teams had met this season. The first set was tied at 2-2 with Virginia holding the advantage on Duke's serve when rain started coming down causing an hour weather delay. After the delay the two Cavaliers scored five straight points to close out the break and hold serve for a 4-2 lead.
Courtney and Shabaz did not get broken in the first two sets. They won the first 6-4 and then neither team lost a serve in the second set. The second went to a tiebreaker with the Cavaliers taking a quick 3-0 lead. After Carleton and Cunha tied it at 3-3, Virginia scored three of the next four to get to match point. The Blue Devils battled back to score four straight and win the set. In the deciding set, the Cavaliers broke Duke twice en route to a 5-1 lead. Duke broke back to extend the set but Virginia ended up winning 6-3.
"The delay drew the match out a little longer, but it was a good tennis match," said Smith. "Virginia served really well and got up a set. We didn't break in the second but forced a tiebreaker and after UVA played great to get up 6-4 in the tiebreaker our guys played two amazing points to save match points. They gave themselves a chance by winning the second set."
Carleton and Cunha end their season with a school record 41 wins and just six losses. The two players were 22-2 in dual matches and ranked No. 1 for the final half of the season.
"Anytime you lose it is tough but when you look at the full body of work for those guys it is pretty amazing," said Smith. "They only lost two dual matches when playing No. 1 in our tough schedule which is pretty remarkable and shows how consistent they have been. They had a great run in the NCAA Tournament and even though it ended earlier than they hoped they were playing great tennis."
The semifinals will take place on Sunday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. The championship matches will be played on Monday.
NCAA Singles Bracket
NCAA Doubles Bracket