May 28, 2010

By Andy Johnston
Special to

ATHENS, Ga. - Robert Farah swears he went to bed early.

Really, there was no late-night partying for him after Southern California won its second consecutive NCAA Division I men's tennis title on Tuesday night.

So he didn't have an explanation for his queasiness in his second-round match against Georgia's Javier Garrapiz in the singles portion of the tournament on Thursday.

Despite quietly throwing up near the fence of Court 1 in the middle of the first set at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex, ninth-seeded Farah dominated Garrapiz in the second set for a 7-5, 6-1 victory and a spot in the Sweet 16 on Friday.

He will play Oklahoma State's Oleksandr Nedovyesov, the sixth seed, at 10 a.m. (EDT) Friday. Farah was also scheduled to team with Steve Johnson for a second-round doubles match late Friday.

"I felt like I was going to puke the whole first set and I couldn't get to the trash can, so I had to run in the corner and puke," Farah said. "I felt much better after that. I couldn't drink water after that because I was afraid I would puke. I took very small drinks and they gave me a small pill that's pure sugar so I wouldn't cramp."

Farah insists he learned his lesson last year and went to bed early after the Trojans won the team championship on Tuesday night. He joined the team for a late supper at East West Bistro in downtown Athens and hung out with Stanford's national champion women's team, which also happened to be there.

After that, he hit the sack.

His teammates? That's another story.

"I was a good guy. I was a rookie last year and it cost me," said Farah, who lost in the first round last year. "We won it last year, and I was out there with my friends and my teammates until late. I had to play the next day. I paid the price. Experience gave me the knowledge to go to bed early and just go out there and have a great meal with my friends and let them enjoy the night."

Nothing has seemed to faze Farah throughout the tournament.

He defeated eighth-ranked Chase Buchanan of Ohio State as Southern Cal bounced the Buckeyes from the quarterfinals, knocked off No. 11 Michael Shabaz of Virginia in the semis and then took down Tennessee's top-ranked J.P. Smith in the national championship match.

Farah defeated Baylor's Jordan Rux 6-3, 6-2 in the first round of singles on Wednesday.

"I feel very confident," he said. "I've been playing really well. I want to give it a shot."

Garrapiz couldn't keep up with Farah in the second set. He struggled to return his serves and couldn't find an open area of the court as Farah seemed to anticipate every shot.

At match point, Farah put Garrapiz away with another big serve that couldn't be returned in play.

"I was up 5-3 (in the first set) and he started playing real good at the end," Garrapiz said. "He was throwing bombs with his serve."

Georgia assistant men's coach Will Glenn said their strategy was to force long points and hope for a mistake, but Farah wasn't having any of that.

"I felt like if we could keep pushing the guy and keep him on the court longer and longer, we had a chance, but at the end of that first set, Robert did a great job of stepping inside the court and pushing Javy around a little bit and making some big shots," Glenn said. "He turned it on. He played big when he had to. That was the difference in the first set, and then he wore him down in the end."

Farah, a senior from Cali, Colombia, is turning pro after next week and already has plans to play in a professional hardcourt tournament which starts June 14 in Venezuela.

But first, it appears Farah has his eyes on winning another piece of hardware.

"He has a chance to win here this week." Garrapiz said.