We’re guaranteed a first-time finalist as Ernesto Escobedo and Thomaz Bellucci take the court Saturday for the first semifinal of the day.
NextGenATP star Escobedo notched the biggest win of his career Friday, defeating No.2 seed and 2013 champion John Isner 7-6(6) 6-7 (6) 7-6(5) to reach his first ATP World Tour semifinal. The 20-year-old wild card is the youngest semifinalist at the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship since his idol, Andy Roddick, in 2003.
His opponent is no stranger to clay success, having won four titles in his career, all of them coming on the surface. The Brazilian scored his first-ever win over American Sam Querrey in the quarterfinals, needing three sets to do so. He is the first player to reach semifinals here having won three 3-setters since Sebastien Grosjean in 2005.
This will be the pair’s first career meeting.
It will be an all-American affair on Center Court during the second semifinal of the day, as top seed Jack Sock and No.4 Steve Johnson clash.
Sock, who recorded his 20th match-win of the year late Friday night over Feliciano Lopez, is back in the semifinals at River Oaks for a third consecutive year. The 24-year-old has won two titles this year in Auckland and Delray Beach. He leads Johnson 4-1 in their head-to-head, and has defeated the California native twice already this year.
Johnson, who is through to his first U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship semifinal in five attempts, scored a first-time win over former champion Fernando Verdasco Friday evening. The 27-year-old will be playing in his second semifinal of 2017, the first being in Auckland where he lost to eventual champion, and Saturday’s opponent, Sock.
Semifinal Saturday kicks off at 1pm on Center Court. Check out the full schedule here.