ATP Tour: US Men's Clay Court Champs Preview

Tennis player stands with racquet in hand

We take a look at this week's US Men's Clay Court Championships set to take place at the River Oaks Country Club between 9 April and 15 April.

This is one of the longest running tennis events in ATP history, and the last remaining full clay-court event held on the ATP Tour. The event has gone through various incarnations over the years, and lived an exceptionally nomadic existence. It settled ion Houston in 2001, moving from Houston Westside Tennis Club in 2007 to River Oaks Country Club, where it has remained. The event is played on maroon colored Har-Tru Clay.

This year's edition will have something of a celebratory feel giving the fact that all five members of the victorious USA Davis Cup team will be in attendance. It will also give players the chance to fine-tune their games ahead of a busy clay-court season in Europe. The four top seeded players will all get byes to the second round.

ATP Tour: US Men’s Clay Court Champs | 9 April - 15 April | River Oaks Country Club

Past Winners
2017: Steve Johnson
2016: Juan Monaco
2015: Jack Sock
2014: Fernando Verdasco 
2013: John Isner

First Quarter- Projected Quarter-Finalists- John Isner, Steve Johnson
John Isner’s miraculous feats in winning the Miami title really came as a shot from the blue for the now veteran American. He is also returning to a happy hunting ground this week, having tasted success here in 2013. Defending champion Steve Johnson hasn’t been in great touch this season, with a semi-final appearance in the slightly deglamorized Delray Beach event his main claim to fame. Clearly the wildcard in this quarter is the enigmatic presence that is Francis Tiafoe. He could ultimately be the man to face down Isner in the quarters, though I believe experience will prevail in the end.

To Progress to Semi-final: John Isner

Second Quarter- Projected Quarter-Finalists- Jack Sock, Ryan Harrison
Ryan Harrison has had a disappointing season, with a quarter-final appearance in Mexico his best result thus far. Clearly Jack Sock is the man to beat in this section. He may not have had the greatest year thus far, but the American Masters 1000 winner has all the ingredients in his game to be successful this week. He won the event in 2015 before losing the 2016 final. Taylor Fritz is the proverbial dark horse in this section. He burst onto the scene with that Round of 16 run in Indian Wells. I have a feeling he may emerge victorious over Harrison, setting up a quarter-final appearance against Sock.

To Progress to Semi-final: Jack Sock 

Third Quarter- Projected Quarter-Finalists- Fernando Verdasco, Nick Kyrgios
2014 champion and clay-court aficionado Fernando Verdasco has had a very productive season, getting every inch of performance that he possibly can from his body. But you do wonder about the strain of playing week-in, week-out. Nick Kyrgios is the top seeded player in this section and has received a wildcard entry this week. He showed some glimmers of improvement in his Miami run and he will be feeling confident, especially were he to face Verdasco in the quarter-finals. He leads the head-to-head against Verdasco 2-0.

To Progress to Sem-ifinal: Nick Kyrgios

Fourth Quarter- Projected Quarter-Finalists- Sam Querrey, Tennys Sandgren
Evergreen Sam Querrey is a two-time losing finalist in this event- losing in 2015 and way back in 2010. He has had a slow season, but showed signs of momentum in making the quarter-finals in Indian Wells. He also was narrowly beaten in a pulsating New York Open Final against Kevin Anderson. Tennys Sandgren was the hottest topic in men’s tennis during the first major of the year, splitting public opinion with his brilliant on-court heroics and rather- dare I say colorful- social media persona. But since then his game has really been nowhere. I can easily see Sam Querrey taking on the talented Nicolas Kicker in the quarters here, with Querrey the heavy favorite to progress.

To Progress to Semi-final: Sam Querrey

Written by Damien Kayat for

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