US Men's Clay Court Championships 2014: Daily Scores, Results and Schedule
The 2014 U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships are underway from River Oaks Country Club in Houston, where defending champion John Isner looks to become the first player since Andy Roddick in 2002 to win back-to-back titles at the ATP World Tour 250 series event.
Despite being forced to retire from his first match at the Australian Open back in January, 2014 has been a strong year for the 28-year-old American, who won a singles title in Auckland, New Zealand to begin the season and recently made a run to the semifinals at Indian Wells last month. As a result, Isner is all the way up to a career-best No. 9 in the ATP rankings.
During his run to the round of 16 at the 2014 Miami Masters late last month, Isner talked about representing American men's tennis, per Miami Herald's Bill Van Smith:
The state of U.S. tennis is not the greatest it has ever been. That’s for sure. We have seen times where you have three U.S. guys in the top 10, something like that. Or 10 guys in the top 50. It’s crazy.
But it’s not like that now. You know, I can’t really say why. It’s really none of my concern to worry about the rest of the guys. Just focus on myself.
The 6'10" star enters this week's tournament as the overall top seed in the men's singles draw but will face stiff competition from a field of familiar opponents.
Last year's finalist Nicolas Almagro is the No. 3 seed and has been placed in Isner's half of the draw, meaning the two top 20 players could potentially meet in the semifinals.
Sporting News broke down Isner's biggest threat this spring:
Spain's Nicolas Almagro is back looking to go one better than 2013. Almagro is without a title since May 2012, and each of his 20 finals at ATP level have been on clay. Unlike Isner, Almagro has struggled to make an impact this year after returning from a shoulder injury that kept him out of the Australian Open.
Meanwhile, another Spaniard, world No. 14 Tommy Robredo is the No. 2 seed at the bottom of the draw. Although Robredo lacks familiarity with this event, the 31-year-old is an accomplished clay-court player, with 11 of his 12 career ATP singles titles having been won on the surface.
Almagro and Robredo's compatriot, Fernando Verdasco concludes the top four seeds. The 30-year-old has played 11 ATP finals on clay, winning three of his five singles titles on the red stuff.
Sixth-seeded Juan Monaco and seventh-seeded Lleyton Hewitt are dark horses to win this year's tournament. Monaco defeated Isner in the 2012 final and Hewitt won back in 2009.
With the tournament underway, let's get you up to speed on the latest results and scores from Houston.
No. 1 John Isner
No. 2 Tommy Robredo
No. 3 Nicolas Almagro
No. 4 Fernando Verdasco
No. 5 Feliciano Lopez
No. 6 Juan Monaco
No. 7 Lleyton Hewitt
No. 8 Ivo Karlovic
Click here to view the daily order of player via ATPWorldTour.com.
Click here to view the updated singles draw via ATPWorldTour.com.
Day 7 Recap
Fernando Verdasco def. Nicolas Almagro; 6-3, 7-6 (4)
With a clutch finish, Fernando Verdasco netted a straight-set victory over Nicolas Almagro, 6-3, 7-6 (4) in the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship final.
Verdasco faced five break points in the second set with Almagro leading the set 5-3. Verdasco turned away all five and went on to force a tiebreak.
After falling behind by a mini break in the tiebreak, Verdasco confidently closed out the match to win his sixth ATP World Tour title, but his first since 2010.
Verdasco only won 66 percent of his first-serve points for the match, but he successfully landed 79 percent of his first serves.
Any title is impressive, but Verdasco's achievement looks even more spectacular given his workload. He also reached the doubles final. On the other hand, Almagro didn't even have to take the court in the semifinal, as his opponent, Sam Querrey, retired with a back injury.
Day 6 Recap
Day 6 Scores
(3) Nicolas Almagro def. Sam Querrey (retired)
(4) Fernando Verdasco def. Santiago Giraldo; 6-4, 7-5
The semifinals were unfortunately rather anticlimactic on Saturday, because American Sam Querrey was forced to retire due to a back injury. Janet Wuerpel of USTA.com reported what Querrey had to say about his status, as he worked as hard as he could since the morning to play in Houston but couldn't get healthy enough.
"Since 9 a.m. this morning we were working on my back in order to make it possible for me to play," said Querrey.
That allowed Almagro to advance to the final, where he will take on Fernando Verdasco, who won as the favorite over Santiago Giraldo. Both sets were competitive, but the underdog Giraldo wasn't able to win the critical points as Verdasco pulled through for a 6-4, 7-5 triumph.
A showdown for the top prize will take place between Spanish compatriots in Almagro and Verdasco. It should be interesting to see how both handle each other, since both have played lesser competition in recent matches. With both players scrapping for the trophy, there's reason to believe that this match can go the full distance.
It isn't often during the clay court season that a Spaniard has a shot at winning the title, given the prowess Rafael Nadal has displayed over the years on this surface. This is a golden opportunity for both Almagro and Verdasco to bolster their profiles and rise up marginally in the ATP rankings.
Day 5 Recap
Day 5 Scores
(3) Nicolas Almagro def. Jack Sock; 6-2, 6-4
(4) Fernando Verdasco def. Donald Young; 7-6 (1), 6-1
Sam Querrey def. Dustin Brown; 6-3, 6-7 (8), 6-3
Santiago Giraldo def. Fernando Gonzalez; 6-3, 6-4
The highest remaining seeds advanced through to the semifinals on Day 5. Nicolas Almagro handled young American Jack Sock in straight sets by a score of 6-2, 6-4. The Spaniard seized control from the beginning and his edge in experience was evident from the outset.
A tense first-set tiebreaker saw No. 4 seed Fernando Verdasco get back on track versus Donald Young, as he dominated that 7-1 and dropped just one game in closing out the unseeded German. Verdasco seemed poised to capture his first title since 2010.
A thrilling three-set match unfolded between Sam Querrey and Dustin Brown. After Querrey took the first set with ease, he fell in a 10-8 tiebreaker to Brown before putting him away 6-3 in the decisive set. He advanced to face Almagro in a semifinals showdown.
Santiago Giraldo offered no suspense in his match, disposing of Fernando Gonzalez 6-3, 6-4 to claim a spot in the semis opposite Verdasco. Since the top two seeds have been toppled in this tournament, Saturday's action promises to be interesting and potentially ripe for another upset.
Day 4 Recap
Day 4 Scores
Singles Second Round
Alejandro Gonzalez def. (5) Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 1-0
(3) Nicolas Almagro def. Michael Russell 6-2, 6-3
Santiago Giraldo def. (2) Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-4
Jack Sock def. Benjamin Becker 6-4, 6-3
(4) Fernando Verdasco def. Steve Johnson 6-0, 4-6, 6-3
Donald Young def. (6) Juan Monaco 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-3
It was a wild day of upsets at the River Oaks Country Club. After defending champ John Isner surprisingly fell on Wednesday, Thursday saw No. 2 seed Tommy Robredo, No. 5 seed Feliciano Lopez and No. 6 seed Juan Monaco all fall to unseeded players in second-round play.
Monaco was the only one of the defeated-seeded players to even win a set on the day.
Lopez, as the Associated Press reported on Seattlepi.com, retired due to severe allergies in his match against Alejandro Gonzalez. He was down a set and a game at the time he retired.
Gonzalez will now advance to face Santiago Giraldo who upset Robredo in straight sets.
Third-seeded Nicolas Almagro was able to survive, and he looked strong in doing so while dropping just five total games to Michael Russell.
With all the top seeds in this tournament quickly bowing out, Almagro, who was runner-up to Isner in last year's event, has to be liking his chances of taking things one step further this year.
Day 3 Recap
Day 3 Scores
Singles First Round
Dustin Brown (Germany) defeats (1) John Isner (USA) 6-4, 6-7(7), 7-6(4)
(6) Juan Monaco defeats Somdev Devvarman; 7-6(4), 6-2
Santiago Giraldo defeats Matthew Ebden; 6-1, 6-2
Singles Second Round
Sam Querrey defeats (7) Lleyton Hewitt; 6-3, 6-4
Doubles First Round
(2) David Marrero/Fernando Verdasco defeat Jonathan Erlich/ Michal Mertinak; 6-4, 6-2
Purav Raja/Divij Sharan defeat (3) Santiago Gonzalez/Scott Lipsky; 7-5, 6-2
Santiago Giraldo/Alejandro Gonzalez defeat (4) Mate Pavic/John-Patrick Smith; 7-6(7), 6-4
Austin Krajicek/Michael Venus defeat Thiemo de Bakker/Melle Van Gemerden; 6-3, 7-5
Benjamin Becker (Germany) / Rameez Junaid (Australia) defeat WC Steve Johnson (USA) / Sam Querrey (USA) 7-6(1), 6-2
Doubles Second Round
(1) Bob Bryan (USA) / Mike Bryan (USA) defeat Matt Ebden (Australia) / Sam Groth (Australia) 6-2, 3-6, 12-10
Wednesday's action began with Juan Monaco joining some elite company. After his victory against Somdev Devvarman, he notched his 200th win on clay—one of only five active players to have recorded that milestone, according to ATPWorldTour.com.
During an interview with the ATP staff, Monaco spoke of his achievement:
I have great memories here. I won this tournament, so every time I come here I feel something special. It's very nice to get this great record here. It's not easy. If you can see the guys who [achieve] this stat, it's amazing. I was born playing on clay, so this is something really special for me. I didn't expect that when I started my career, to win 200 matches on clay.
Santiago Giraldo moved on with ease as well, recording a quick 6-1, 6-2 victory over Matthew Ebden in the day's second first-round match.
Sam Querrey was the first player to reach the quarterfinals after defeating No. 7 Lleyton Hewitt on Wednesday. This was a huge morale boost for Querrey, as Hewitt was a former champion of this same tournament.
The duo of Marrero and Verdasco got through the first round of doubles play without much trouble, as they defeated Erlich and Mertinak in consecutive sets.
This was followed by two upsets, as Gonzalez and Lipsky were ousted from the tournament by Raja and Sharan in two sets, and Pavic and Smith fell to Giraldo and Gonzalez.
Krajicek and Venus moved on as well, defeating Thiemo de Bakker and Melle Van Gemerden.
The later action saw one of the most notable results of the entire tournament, as Dustin Brown knocked off No. 1 seed John Isner in a thrilling three-set match. That means we will have a new champion in the 2014 event, seeing as how Isner won last year.
Brown was able to win 81 percent of his first serve points, as compared to 73 percent from Isner.
On the doubles side, Bob and Mike Bryan moved on with a victory over Matt Ebden and Sam Groth of Australia, although the win did not come easily.
The Australians actually took the second set and pushed the Bryan brothers to the brink in the third. It is a testament to the Bryan brothers' excellence that the persevered enough to clinch the victory.
Day 2 Recap
Day 2 Scores
Singles First Round
(7) Lleyton Hewitt defeats Peter Polansky; 6-4, 3-6, 6-4
Donald Young defeats Ryan Harrison; 6-0, 6-1
Michael Russell defeats Daniel Gimeno-Traver; 6-3, 7-6(2)
Benjamin Becker defeats Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo; 6-1, 1-6, 6-3
Steve Johnson defeats Denis Kudla; 6-3, 7-6(4)
(5) Feliciano Lopez defeats Robby Ginepri 7-5, 6-2
Doubles First Round
Matt Ebden/Sam Groth defeat Ken Skupski/Neal Skupski; 6-4, 7-6(2)
Donald Young hasn't had much go right during his professional career, but he enjoyed an outstanding performance on Tuesday, making quick work of fellow American Ryan Harrison, 6-0, 6-1.
In a match that lasted just 41 minutes, the former world junior No. 1 dropped just 18 total points. Harrison battled through three tough qualifying matches, so that likely had something to do with it, but it was encouraging showing from Young, nonetheless.
The 24-year-old will next get the winner of Juan Monaco and Somdev Devvarman, giving him a solid opportunity to advance past the second round for the first time since the Australian Open.
In the other all-American matchup from Houston on Tuesday, Steve Johnson defeated Denis Kudla in straight sets, 6-3, 7-6(4). Johnson had five aces and won 64 percent of his service points, setting up a second-round matchup with No. 4 Fernando Verdasco.
Lleyton Hewitt, one of only two seeded players in action on the day, dropped a set to Peter Polansky but was able to rebound in the third set to advance. He'll play American Sam Querrey in the next round.
The highest seed in action Tuesday, fifth-seeded Feliciano Lopez, also had little trouble advancing. Qualifier Robby Ginepri played tough through the first set, nearly forcing a tiebreak before losing 7-5. The second set, though, was slight work for Lopez. He broke the overmatched youngster multiple times to finish him off in straight sets.
Day 1 Recap
Day 1 Scores
Jack Sock def. (8) Ivo Karlovic; 6-1, 6-4
Sam Querrey def. Alex Bogomolov Jr.; 6-4, 7-6(6)
Dustin Brown def. Rhyne Williams; 6-1, 6-2
Alejandro Gonzalez def. Marcos Baghdatis; 4-6, 6-2, 6-1
Main Draw Qualifying
Robby Ginepri def. Thanasi Kokkinakis; 7-5, 7-6(6)
Peter Polansky def. Thiemo de Bakker; 6-4, 6-3
Ryan Harrison def. Ruben Bemelmans; 1-6, 7-5, 7-6(3)
Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo def. Takanyi Garanganga; 6-1, 5-7, 6-3
Two of the three Americans in action during Day 1's first-round matches were successful on Monday, including Jack Sock, who upset eighth-seeded Ivo Karlovic in straight sets.
Sock converted on 4-of-6 break points and took apart the 2007 champion's second serve, winning 16-of-22 second-serve return points. With the win, Sock is just one win away from the quarterfinals.
Sam Querrey was also a winner on Monday, surviving Russian veteran Alex Bogomolov Jr. in straight sets. Both players had success on return, breaking each other several times, but Querrey's more consistent serve was the difference in the end.
The 26-year-old blasted 17 aces and won 67 percent of his first-serve points for the match.
Unlike Sock and Querrey, 23-year-old American Rhyne Williams wasn't so fortunate, falling to Germany's Dustin Brown in a short, straight-sets affair. Williams had no answer for Brown's serve and struggled to fight off break points, saving just 3-of-7 for the match.
In the final first-round match, Alejandro Gonzalez fought from behind to defeat wild card Marcos Baghdatis, who struggled immensely on his second serve over the final two sets. After winning 7-of-14 second-serve points in the opening set, Baghdatis went a combined 3-of-22 on his second-serve points over the final two sets.
Tuesday's first-round action will feature two all-American matchups. The first will pit young Ryan Harrison up against Donald Young while the second will see Steve Johnson take on Denis Kudla.
Fifth-seeded Feliciano Lopez and seventh-seeded Lleyton Hewitt (2009 champion) will be the only top seeds in action on Tuesday. Lopez will play American qualifier Robby Ginepri while Hewitt will be up against Canadian qualifier Peter Polansky. Both Ginepri and Polansky were straight-sets winners on Day 1.