Two-time defending champion Steve Johnson will return to the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship April 6-14 at River Oaks Country Club.
Johnson’s 2017 win over Thomaz Bellucci in that year’s final at River Oaks yielded his second career title, and first on clay. He went on to repeat in 2018, defeating five Americans en route, including Tennys Sandgren in the final.
Later in 2018, Johnson won in Newport, giving him four career titles from six finals. The second-highest ranked American on the ATP, he has won at least 25 matches in four straight seasons.
“Stevie has been a wonderful champion for our event, and we’re thrilled he will be returning this Spring,” said Tournament Director Bronwyn Greer. “His wins at River Oaks have been very emotional for him. We look forward to welcoming him back as he attempts to make more history at our storied event.”
The first player to repeat as US Clay champion since Andy Roddick (2001-02), Johnson is seeking to be just the third player to three-peat in the 100-plus year history of the tournament. He would join Bobby Riggs (1936-38) and the winner of a tournament record six straight Bill Tilden (1922-27). In the 84-year history of tournament tennis at River Oaks, the only back-to-back-to-back winner was Bitsy Grant (1935-37).
Across the ATP, only 10 active players have won three straight titles at an event. Johnson is one of five players with a chance to three-peat in 2019, joining Roger Federer (Australian Open and Basel), Rafael Nadal (Roland Garros), Alexander Zverev (Munich, Washington, D.C.) and John Isner (Atlanta).
Johnson’s pro success has come after a extraordinary college career at the University of Southern California where he won back-to-back NCAA singles titles while helping the Trojans to four straight team titles. He closed his college career by winning 72 consecutive matches.
The 85th tournament to be held at River Oaks Country Club will also feature two-time finalist Sam Querrey and six-time doubles champions Bob and Mike Bryan. Additional players will be announced in the coming weeks, with the initial entry list for the 28-player field due at the end of February.
Tickets for the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship are available now.