Photo: Tennis Canada
Gabriel Diallo’s unforgettable summer is about to get even better as he prepares to make his Davis Cup debut for Canada during the group stage of the 2022 Davis Cup Finals in Valencia, Spain.
The 20-year-old, who is entering his senior year with the University of Kentucky Wildcats, spent his school break playing professional tournaments on Canadian soil and managed to make his first major breakthrough on the ATP Tour in the process.
In August, Diallo made his debut at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers in his hometown of Montreal. He began qualifying weekend as somewhat of an unknown entity and by late Saturday afternoon, he was the talk of the town after defeating world no. 62 James Duckworth of Australia 6-3, 7-6(5). It was his first victory of any kind on the ATP Tour and although he came up short in qualifying for the main draw, the win gave him the confidence to pull off an incredible feat in Granby two weeks later.
READ : Diallo shines
At the Granby National Bank Championships, Diallo beat three top 300 players en route to his first ATP Challenger Tour title. In the second round against Cedrick-Marcel Stebe, he saved a match point to stay in the tournament and also won two third set tiebreaks along the way. He saved his best performance for the final as he topped China’s Juncheng Shang, ranked no. 246 in the world, 7-5, 7-6(5) to capture the biggest trophy of his young career.
Prior to Granby, Diallo held a 1-4 record on the Challenger Tour and his improbable run allowed him to reach a career-best ATP ranking of no. 382 which meant he achieved his 2022 season goal of cracking the top 500.
Diallo’s triumphant junior year at Kentucky was a prelude to his memorable summer. He was named to the All-SEC First Team and the All-SEC Tournament Team thanks to a pair of victories which helped lead his team to the SEC Conference championship. He finished 2022 with an NCAA ranking of no. 8 and an impressive 38-8 record, leading Kentucky in wins.
Ready For More at Davis Cup
This week in Valencia will be yet another feather in Diallo’s cap. Representing your country on the international stage in a team competition is always a special moment that ranks high on every player’s career highlight reel.
It will also be a great learning experience that will ultimately serve as an important stepping stone for whatever the future holds for him. Having the opportunity to train with the likes of Félix Auger-Aliassime and Vasek Pospisil, to learn a few tricks of the trade from his accomplished teammates and what it takes to win an event of this magnitude, will be invaluable to him going forward. Not to mention his chance to observe some of the best players in the world who will be Canada’s opponents including new World No. 1 and U.S. Open champion Carlos Alcaraz, Roberto Bautista Agut, Miomir Kecmanovic and Filip Krajinovic.
There’s nothing quite like a Davis Cup atmosphere, the pride, the emotions, the level of play. It’s the type of environment that Diallo is used to in the NCAA so he should feel right at home in his new surroundings and thrive in them too.
The group phase of the Davis Cup Finals takes place in Valencia, Spain from September 13-18, 2022. Canada will face Spain, Serbia and South Korea.