Ole Miss freshman Devin Britton continued his fearless run through NCAA Individual play Saturday, battling back against Stanford's Alex Clayton for a berth in the Final Four.
The Mississippi native, who entered the day as one of only two underclassmen left in the field, rallied from a set down to knock off Clayton (6-4) in the third set.
Britton aced the Cardinal sophomore on match point to notch his 12th consecutive win, becoming the fifth Rebel ever to reach the semifinals in singles.
"That was a great player that he beat today," said Ole Miss head coach Billy Chadwick. "He was the No. 1 player from Stanford, but Devin really outfought him and stuck to his game. Devin was able to break him down and take control.
"Devin had to be on his game to beat (Clayton) today. He had to dig deep. Devin really put a lot of pressure on Clayton's second serve. He actually hit two winners on second serves. He knew what was coming. It was a very exciting match."
Ranked No. 30 in the country, Britton will now face Arkansas senior Blake Strode Sunday at 10 a.m.
"It's pretty exciting to move on to the semifinals," Britton said. "I'm just happy to be here. (The match) definitely could have gone either way. It probably should have gone his way. He had a bunch of chances in the second set and luckily, I had a couple of big serves. I somehow squeezed it out, and I am looking forward to tomorrow."
Similar to Britton, Strode will also be making his first appearance in the NCAA Singles Championship semifinal round. Strode upset Texas A&M's Conor Pollock – seeded No. 10 – in three sets Saturday.
Strode, a three-time All-SEC honoree, is only the second Razorback to ever reach the Final Four of the NCAA Singles Championship.
"Devin now faces a good player from Arkansas who actually beat Jonas (Berg) head-to-head," Chadwick said of Strode, who beat the Rebels' No. 1 singles player in straight sets April 12th. "He's a baseliner and very powerful. He has a big serve and backs it up by taking control with his forehand.
"But Devin will take that away from him by getting to him quick. The match will really come down to how each of them serve. He's already looking forward to tomorrow's match. It's a very good matchup."
After finishing the regular season with an overall record of 23-9, Britton has been on a tear in postseason play.
Britton topped Rice's Bruno Rosa in straight sets Friday, which followed a win over Virginia's Dominic Inglot – ranked No. 14 nationally – a day earlier. He also made quick work of Wisconsin's Mortiz Baumann in the first round, and now sits with 27 wins on the year.
"Devin is very special," Chadwick said. "He has put himself amongst the best anywhere by accomplishing what he has. What he's done is show he belongs. He's riding a 12 game winning streak. As a freshman, just to qualify for singles is an accomplishment. But to get this far is very impressive."
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