Johansson Upsets Nation’s Top Player To Earn C
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FARMERS BRANCH, TEXAS – Arkansas senior Oskar Johansson is headed for his second national championship singles final of the year after knocking off the nation’s No. 1 ranked player Genius Chidzikwe of SMU in straight sets in semifinal action of the Rolex National Intercollegiate Indoor Tennis Championships on Saturday afternoon.
Johansson recorded a 6-1, 7-6 (7) victory over Chidzikwe in front of a partisan SMU crowd on the stadium court of Brookhaven Country Club just outside of Dallas. Chidzikwe was defeated for just the second time this season after compiling a 13-1 record prior to Saturday’s action. Johansson ran his record to 18-2 with the victory.
“The thing that is so impressive about Oskar is his poise,” Arkansas volunteer assistant coach Darin Phelan said. “He won the first set easily, but then Chidzikwe made a run in the second set and had the crowd behind him. Oskar never overreacted and just played it point by point. There was a close call on the first match point that didn’t go his way and Oskar didn’t let it faze him. The composure he is showing in this tournament is just incredible.”
Johansson’s road to the final has included wins over the No. 1, 7, 13 and 52nd ranked players in the country. Johansson was ranked No. 8 in the latest individual listing, but could make a run at the top spot with a win on Sunday.
The Hogs’ All-American now finds himself in his second collegiate grand slam final of the season. Johansson will attempt to become the first UA player in school history to win a pair of national singles crowns.
“We have never had a guy win two individual national championships in a career much less in one season,” Arkansas head coach Robert Cox said. “The way Oskar is playing, he has a great shot at it. He is just a steady player that never lets things get to him too much. His experience of winning the National Clay Courts should help him in the final.”
Johansson won the first leg of the grand slam last September by capturing the T. Rowe Price National Clay Court singles crown. The Malmoe, Sweden, native hopes to make it two out of three national titles with a win in Sunday’s final against Stanford’s Alex Kim. Kim is the Cardinal’s top singles player and the defending NCAA singles champion. Johansson and Kim will take the court for the singles final at 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.
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