Second Match On Grass, Diallo Downs World No. 25 Evans
Despite playing his first tournament on grass this week, Gabriel Diallo is quickly adapting to the surface. The 6’8” Canadian proved so by earning the highest-ranked win of his career Thursday at the ATP Challenger Tour 125 event in Surbiton.
The 21-year-old upset top seed and World No. 25 Daniel Evans 7-5, 6-2 after winning 81 per cent of first-serve points to reach the Lexus Surbiton Trophy quarter-finals. Diallo ousted British lefty Liam Broady in the opening round before producing another strong performance against Evans, who won the Surbiton Challenger title in 2019.
“It feels great, especially on a surface like this. I’ve never played on grass before so I did not have any expectations coming in,” Diallo told ATPTour.com. “Super happy. He’s an amazing player and an established player as well. To get this win feels amazing and hopefully I can carry the momentum.”
While the Montreal native is just now finding his footing on the surface, his coach Martin Laurendeau has long been a fan of the grass-court swing.
“Last Wednesday was my first time stepping foot on grass to play tennis. I have zero experience but I’m fortunate enough to have my coach ‘Marty’ with me and he loves the grass,” Diallo said. “Always throughout the season he’s like, ‘You have to see the grass season!’ So he got me well prepared.”
Diallo will next aim to reach his second Challenger semi-final of the year when he meets Jurij Rodionov in the last eight. At a career-high No. 138 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, Diallo stated why he believes his style of play is effective on grass.
“I guess the grass suits my game because it suits guys with a big game,” Diallo said. “Big serve and try to come to the net as much as I can.”
In 2022, Diallo captured his maiden Challenger title on home soil in Granby, Canada. The former University of Kentucky standout, who was a two-time ITA All-American, turned pro in December and has been making quick progress on the Challenger Tour.
Boasting a 14-8 Challenger match record this year, Diallo will look to add to the win column Friday by continuing his perfect start on an unfamiliar surface.