Breaking Down Quarterfinal Matchups at the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship
Upsets have been the theme at the 2014 Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship.
Only two of the eight seeds have advanced safely into the quarterfinals. Fernando Verdasco (4) and Nicolas Almagro (3) are the only two whom remain in Houston.
John Isner came in as the top seed, but was upset by Dustin Brown in his first match.
However, the Americans have played surprisingly well on what is usually considered their worst surface as a group. Three of the quarterfinalists are Americans, and all three of them upset seeds to get here.
Now, let's take a look at the quarterfinal matchups.
Here is the schedule for April 11.
The draw can be found here.
**All stats courtesy of atpworldtour.com
Dustin Brown vs. Sam Querrey
Brown comes into this quarterfinal match fresh off the biggest win of his career. His win over Isner was his first career victory over a top-10 player.
According to atpworldtour.com, here is what Brown had to say about the victory, "I got a little tight but you can’t practice those things, that’s just repetition of being in these situations, in matches against these guys. I’m really happy that this time I won it.”
He will be taking on Sam Querrey next. Querrey took out Lleyton Hewitt (7) 6-3, 6-4 to get here.
Neither player is a natural clay courter. Both players play very aggressive and would prefer a faster surface. Brown likes to come to the net as frequently as possible.
Brown's confidence will be at an all-time high, but the American will have the crowd on his side. The player who can become the aggressor will come out victorious.
They have split their previous two meetings, and we should be in for another tight match.
This match could go either way, but I like Querrey in the States.
Querrey in three.
Nicolas Almagro (3) vs. Jack Sock
Jack Sock pulled off an upset win over Ivo Karlovic (8) in his first match 6-1, 6-4. He followed this up with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Benjamin Becker.
However, the young American will face a much tougher test against Almagro (3) in the quarterfinals. According to atpworldtour.com, Almagro was pleased with how he played in his 6-2, 6-3 win over Michael Russell.
Here is what he had to say after the match, "I played really good tennis today, I was practicing really well at home. I am happy with my tennis. I played very aggressive."
He was my pick to win at the start of the week and is the heavy favorite against Sock.
Almagro won't have too much trouble in this one. Sock came into this tournament with two career wins on clay. On the other hand, Almagro came in with 234 wins and 12 titles on the surface.
Almagro in straight sets.
Donald Young vs. Fernando Verdasco (4)
Donald Young is never easy to figure out. He was a "can't miss" American tennis prospect and top junior in the world. He has showed flashes of this potential at the pro level, but he also had a 17-match losing streak in 2012. He has been as high as no. 38 in the world, but he currently sits at no. 91.
He comes in off a big win over Juan Monaco (6) 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3.
According to atpworldtour.com, this is what he said after the match, “I’ve never won two matches in a row [on clay]. Definitely not over a former Top 10 guy who wins most his matches on clay,” said Young. “It’s a big win for me and I’m just happy to move through.”
Young came into Houston with one career win on clay.
He will face another tough opponent in Verdasco (4). Verdasco picked up the win over Steve Johnson 6-0, 4-6, 6-3.
He has struggled throughout this year, but beat Young in their one previous encounter. Verdasco has a far better clay-court pedigree and should advance to the semifinals.
Young has gotten Americans' hopes up before, but unfortunately, he has a way of bringing that hope right back down.
Verdasco in straight sets.
Alejandro Gonzalez vs. Santiago Giraldo
The Columbian pair of Alejandro Gonzalez and Santiago Giraldo teamed up in doubles and have reached the semifinals. Now, they will be playing each other in the quarterfinals of singles.
Gonzalez was winning 6-3, 2-0 when Feliciano Lopez (6) retired due to illness. He has spent most of his career on the challenger circuit, and this is his first quarterfinal appearance at this level.
Gonzalez came into Houston with just three career wins.
Giraldo is the more established player of the two. He has been as high as no. 39 in the world and has been playing on this level for a few years.
Giraldo comes in off one of the biggest wins of his career. He advanced past Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-4 to get here.
Giraldo is the more established player and has been at this stage before. Gonzalez has not; I am going with Giraldo in a close one.
Giraldo in three.