Former Virginia standout and two-time NCAA singles champion Somdev Devvarman will be playing the top-ranked Rafael Nadal in the Round of 16 at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. This is the first ever meeting in an ATP event between Nadal and the world No. 84 Devvarman, who had advanced as a qualifier, but who also had upset world No. 19 Marcos Baghdatis in the second round.
Devvarman, 26, is making his third main draw appearance at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament. This is the first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament of the year.
"It's one of those things when you're playing with confidence, playing well, you know, you want to keep playing, and it doesn't happen too often," Devvarman said on Monday. "I mean, for Rafa and Fed it does, but for the majority of the players it's one of those things you want to kind of ride the momentum and keep playing, keep playing with adrenaline, and hope for the best in your next matches."
By reaching the Round of 16, Devvarman will be ranked at least 65th in the world, giving him his highest career ranking (previously 79). Former Wahoo Brian Vahaly was the highest-ranked ATP Tour member to have come from Virginia, at No. 64. Devvarman will likely become the highest-ranked ATP Tour member to have ever donned a Virginia jersey.
More on what he thinks of the upcoming match, and how he looks back on his experience at Virginia, after the jump.
When asked whether he thought there was a new wave of players who went to college rather than joining the tour coming straight from high school (the last big wave came in the 1980s), Devvarman talked about how it's difficult to avoid temptation and get a college degree first.
"I think obviously with the money and stuff, that attracted pro tennis players," Devvarman said. "Obviously the really good ones opted to go pro right away instead of go to college. So I think that's obviously the system there."
Devvarman graduated with a degree from the University in 2008, rather than go straight to the tour at 19, and has not regretted it.
"Academics [were] great. [After I got an offer from] Virginia, [I] chose it. I got lucky, honestly. Because [it was] probably the best decision I made in my life."
Devvarman says he is looking forward to playing the No. 1-ranked player in the world.
"Just about a month ago I played Roger, and that was a surreal experience, so I'm pretty sure this is gonna be something similar," he said. "I think it's gonna be a hell of an experience. Rafa is obviously No. 1 in the world, won a lot of Grand Slams. I have a lot of respect for the guy. He's one of my favorite tennis players, one of my idols. So yeah, when I'm out there I'm gonna do everything I can to win the match. I'm gonna compete as hard as I can and leave everything on the table."