Four semifinal berths are on the line on Friday at River Oaks Country Club in the quarterfinals of the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship.
There’s an opportunity for all four winners Friday to be Americans, which would be the first time all four US Clay semifinalists represent the U.S.A. since 1998 (Andre Agassi, Jimmy Arias, Jim Courier and Lawson Duncan).
At least one American is guaranteed to be in the final four as it will be an all-American affair in the first quarterfinal with second seed John Isner, the 2013 US Clay champion, taking on 20-year-old Ernesto Escobedo. Isner is looking to reach his fourth semifinal at River Oaks while Escobedo, a wild card, is playing his first career semifinal, and is competing in just his ninth ATP event.
Sam Querrey is also playing for a fourth US Clay semifinal when he faces No. 8 seed Thomaz Bellucci. Third seeded Querrey is facing a left-hander for the second straight day. He is 2-1 this year against lefties, including a win over Rafael Nadal in the Acapulco final. Bellucci, who has won four career titles on clay, is attempting to reach his second clay semifinal of 2017
It’s been a breakthrough week for No. 4 seed Steve Johnson, who is through to his first US Clay quarterfinal in his fifth appearance at River Oaks. Johnson, who is playing his fifth quarterfinal of 2017, will face 2014 champion Fernando Verdasco on Friday. Verdasco, the fifth seed, earned his 200th career clay court match win on Thursday, joining just seven over active players who have reached that milestone.
Top seed Jack Sock will be looking to reach his third straight semifinal at River Oaks when he faces Feliciano Lopez in the final singles match of the day. Sock is 19-5 this season, tying him with Roger Federer (19-1) and Rafael Nadal (19-5) for the most matches wins this season. Lopez is competing in his fourth Houston quarterfinal after overcoming NextGenATP star Hyeon Chung in three sets Thursday night.
The doubles quarterfinals are also on Friday’s schedule, headlined by six-time champions Bob and Mike Bryan.