Americans went five for five Thursday at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship as the second round of singles play came to a close.
No.2 seed John Isner kicked off Center Court play against qualifier Leonardo Mayer. The 2013 champion, who arrived to River Oaks on Monday after competing in Brisbane, Australia for Team U.S.A. in Davis Cup, pulled out a gritty 6-7(5), 7-6(3), 6-3 win over the former world No.21 in two hours and fifteen minutes. The 31-year-old fired off 20 aces en route to reaching the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship quarterfinals for the sixth time in 10 years.
Jack Sock, who is the top seed at an ATP World Tour event for the first time in his career, needed three sets to oust fellow former Houston champion Tommy Haas and advance to his 5th quarterfinal of the year. The victory was his 19th in 2017, tying him with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for most ATP match-wins.
Steve Johnson, who also competed in Davis Cup last week, kicked off his tournament campaign against the always-electric Dustin Brown, who ousted defending champion Juan Monaco in the opening round of play. The No.4 seed was able to secure a straight sets win over the German, 7-6(12), 6-4. Ending at 14-12, the first set tiebreak is tied for the longest in Open Era tournament history (1993 De La Pena d Messadri 7-6(12), 7-5). Johnson is through to his fifth quarterfinal of the year, and first-ever in Houston.
Next up for the California native will be Fernando Verdasco, who leads their head-to-head 4-0. The 2014 champion notched his 200th match-win on clay, ousting Argentina’s Nicolas Kicker 7-6(4), 6-1. Verdasco is through to his third quarterfinal here at River Oaks.
20-year-old American Ernesto Escobedo continued his dream run on the red clay, defeating Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to book a spot in his first ATP World Tour quarterfinal. The NextGenATP star sets up an all-American clash with Isner.
Two-time finalist and No.3 seed Sam Querrey kept the American hot streak going as he breezed past Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos 6-4, 6-4 to secure a spot in his fourth consecutive U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship quarterfinal. He will meet No.8 seed Thomaz Bellucci, who needed over two hours to overcome qualifier Maximo Gonzalez 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 and reach his second quarterfinal of the year.
No.6 seed Feliciano Lopez survived a second round scare, battling past 20-year-old Hyeon Chung 4-6 6-2 6-1. The Spaniard moves into his fourth quarterfinal here in Houston and sets up a third career meeting with top seed Jack Sock.
The five Americans into the quarterfinals is the most at this tournament since 2002.