No. 8 USC Stalls Out No. 9 Stanford 4-2 For Quarterfinal Slot

May 14, 2009

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS - The No. 8 seeded USC men's tennis team gutted out a tight match against fellow Pac-10 power Stanford today in the NCAA Round of 16 to push into the Trojans' third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Quarterfinals. Facing the Cardinal at Texas A&M's George P. Mitchell Tennis Center, the Trojans got ahead early and fended off No. 9 Stanford for a 4-2 victory. USC will face top-seeded Virginia in the quarterfinals on Saturday (May 16) at 1 p.m. CT.

Today's quarterfinal victory for the Trojans pushes them to a 22-5 overall record in USC's third straight 20-win season. On Saturday, USC faces the same team it saw in the 2007 NCAA Quarterfinals, coming up against undefeated No. 1 Virginia. The Cavaliers got a 4-1 win over USC in the 2007 tournament.

In the Round of 15 against the Cardinal, it took a comeback surge from #8 Robert Farah to clinch a wildly competitive match for the Trojans in which all but one singles match raged into three sets. First of all, however, USC snagged a crucial advantage by claiming the doubles point. On court two, the teams traded breaks to stay at 4-4 before Stanford's #40-ranked Muller/Wire held to go up 5-4. USC's #59 tandem of Abdullah Magdas / Daniel Nguyen wrapped holds around a big break of the Cardinal to take the lead, and went on to claim an 8-6 win for the first edge in the doubles stretch. At No. 3, however, Stanford's Bruch/Kelly pulled off an 8-5 win over USC's Matt Kecki / Jaak Poldma to even things up, leaving all eyes on court one. There, #4-ranked Trojans Robet Farah / Steve Johnson had fallen behind 1-4 before the Trojans won the next three games to even things at 4-4. The teams stayed on serve down the stretch to bring up a deciding tiebreak. USC moved ahead early in the breaker and closed out the doubles point in USC's favor with a 9-8 (4) decision that brought up singles action.

Singles competition remained largely unpredictable as the match progressed. Even Jaak Poldma's straight-set win - the only such victory on the day - was a dogfight as the Trojan sophomore got a late break to win the first set and the players stayed on serve throughout the second. Poldma fell behind in the second-set tiebreaker 0-2 and then 3-4, but he regrouped with a final push for a 7-5, 7-6 (4) victory that put USC ahead 2-0. Meanwhile, the rest of the matches had stretched into three-setters. The No. 4 singles match was the first to go to a third, but Stanford caught the late edge in that one. Matt Bruch worked ahead late on USC's Abdullah Magdas and got Stanford its first point of the day with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win.

At his No. 6 position, USC freshman Daniel Nguyen saw his opponent Blake Muller take the second set, but the Trojan rallied hard in the third. Nguyen gave up just a single game in the third and lifted USC to within one win of the quarterfinals with his 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win, which was also the freshman's seventh straight singles victory. While USC held a 3-1 advantage, Stanford fought back to within one when #34 Bradley Klahn edged out USC's #53 freshman Steve Johnson 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (1) at the No. 2 position. That left three-setters still going on courts one and five, where Trojans were taking aim at comeback pushes in both matches.

At No. 1, #8 Robert Farah was the first to finish out his comeback effort, notching the junior's first crucial match-clinching win. Farah had slipped up in the first set against Stanford's #21 Alex Clayton, but responded with a 6-3 win in the second to force the deciding third. There, Farah rode an early break to victory, clinching things by holding serve to the tune of a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win that got the Trojans a 4-2 win over the Cardinal. Farah's win left USC freshman Matt Kecki's No. 5 match suspended, with the freshman gaining steam against Richard Wire with the match stopped at 5-7, 6-3, 3-3.

May 14, 2009 - College Station, Texas
#8 USC 4, #9 Stanford 2
(1) #4 Farah/Johnson (USC) def. #28 Thacher/Klahn (STAN) - 9-8 (4)*
(2) #59 Magdas/Nguyen (USC) def. #40 Wire/Muller (STAN) - 8-6
(3) Bruch/Kelly (STAN) def. Kecki/Poldma (USC) - 8-5
Order of finish: 2, 3, 1
(1) #8 Robert Farah (USC) def. #21 Alex Clayton (STAN) - 3-6, 6-3, 6-4*
(2) #34 Bradley Klahn (STAN) def. #53 Steve Johnson (USC) - 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (1)
(3) #81 Jaak Poldma (USC) def. Ryan Thacher (STAN) - 7-5, 7-6 (4)
(4) Matt Bruch (STAN) def. #106 Abdullah Magdas (USC) - 6-1, 3-6, 6-3
(5) Matt Kecki (USC) vs. Richard Wire (STAN) - 5-7, 6-3, 3-3 susp.
(6) Daniel Nguyen (USC) def. Blake Muller (STAN) - 6-4, 3-6, 6-1
Order of finish: 3, 4, 6, 2, 1*

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