The clay court season has come to an end. And the grass court season breezed by. So where does that leave us? The summer hard court season, of course.
However, this summer season is far from the norm for the ATP World Tour, as the Rio Olympics are added to the calendar. Needless to say, there are plenty of opportunities to watch your favorites from the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship take the court in the next few weeks.
Kicking off the Emirates Airline US Open Series the week of July 25, the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Canada. This Masters 1000 event has a rich history, and an even richer player field (well, in past years). Due to the Olympic opening ceremonies kicking off just next week, many players have opted not to play in Canada in order to get down to Rio early and prepare. Who can you see at the Rogers Cup? Former U.S. Clay champion Jack Sock (2015), fellow Americans Ryan Harrison and Jared Donaldson, and Houston favorites Kevin Anderson and Kei Nishikori. Watch live coverage of the Rogers Cup on ESPN2 starting Thursday, July 28.
While some of the ATP’s finest make their way down to Rio, quite a few of them can still be found in Georgia at the BB&T Atlanta Open. Since its start in 2010, the tournament has been won by an American every year, with John Isner returning as the three-time defending champion. Joining Isner: former U.S. Clay champions Fernando Verdasco (2014) and Marcel Granollers (2008), Houston favorites Donald Young and Anderson, as well as American young gun Taylor Fritz. The Atlanta Open kicks off Monday, August 1.
Next week, the Rio Olympics begin. Representing the United States are six former U.S. Clay alumni: Sock, Steve Johnson, Denis Kudla, Brian Baker, and the Bryan Brothers. How have the American men fared at the Summer Olympics in past years? The last time a man representing the USA medaled in singles was 2004 in Athens, when Mardy Fish took home silver. Andre Agassi is the only American man to take home gold (in singles) in the Open Era, having done so in 1996 at the Atlanta Olympics. The six-time U.S. Clay champion Bryan Brothers are another story. The twin tandem got the bronze medal in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics, only to go on in 2012 and win the gold in London. Coverage of the Rio Olympics begins Friday, August 5, on NBC.
Following the Olympics, all eyes turn to the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio. This Masters 1000 event has been dominated by three of the Big Four in the past few years, with either Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, or Andy Murray winning the title every year since 2007. The W&S Open is the only Masters 1000 title that has eluded world No.1 Novak Djokovic, although he has reached the final five times. 2013 U.S. Clay champion Isner made a run to the final in 2013, falling to Nadal in two tight tiebreak sets. Play kicks off in Cincinnati August 13, with Isner, Feliciano Lopez, Benoit Paire, Sam Querrey, Steve Johnson, Anderson, and Sock headlining the initial player entry field. Live coverage begins August 18 on ESPN2.
The final tournament of the Emirates Airline US Open Series takes place at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Past champions include U.S. Clay favorites Isner (2011 and 2012), as well as Anderson (2015). The 2016 tournament will see Americans Johnson, Querrey, and Fritz taking center stage. Play kicks off August 21.
With so many tournaments going on prior to the US Open, there are plenty of chances to catch your favorites from the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship in action, as well as get to know some of the new faces on the ATP World Tour.