2012 US Men’s Clay Court Championship, ATP Houston Preview
By Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
US Men’s Clay Court Championship
ATP World Tour 250
April 9-15, 2012
Prize Money: $442,500
Some of the top Americans and players from around the globe will descend upon River Oaks Racquet Club in Houston, Texas for the US Men’s Clay Court Championship, an ATP 250 series tournament and the first ATP event on clay in the US this year. The ATP Houston event runs April 9-15. Here’s a preview of the singles draw.
Seeds: (top 4 seeds get 1st round byes)
1: Mardy Fish
2: John Isner
3: Feliciano Lopez
4: Juan Monaco
5: Kevin Anderson
6: Carlos Berlocq
7: Alex Bogomolov
8: Ivo Karlovic
1st Round matchups to watch:
Xaiver Malisse vs. Igor Kunitsyn
In a battle of ATP world tour veterans, the Belgian Malisse will serve it up against the veteran Russian Kunitsyn. Both players have interesting games, while Malisse should be the fresher of the two players as Kunitsyn played the Tallahassee challenger last week, losing to Tim Smyzcek in the quarters on Thursday.
Ryan Harrison vs. Alex Bogomolov
Harrison, coming off his play in the Davis Cup against France, will take on the 7 seed Bogolomov in what should be an interesting matchup of both style and skill. While being the lower ranked player, Harrison should be nominally favored but a lot of that depends on his fatigue from the Davis Cup this weekend.
Joao Souza vs. Kevin Anderson
The tall, hard serving South African Anderson who has had some good results this year will take on Brazilian dirtballer Souza whose favorite surface is clay.
Ivo Karlovic vs. Bobby Reynolds
Can the American Reynolds hold up against the hard serving Karlovic, who also played Davis Cup this weekend for Croatia?
Top seed Mardy Fish, who was forced to withdraw from Davis Cup play this weekend but performed well against the Swiss on clay, faces the possibility of playing Spanish dirtballer Daniel-Gimeno-Traver or a qualifier in the 2nd round but otherwise, his draw doesn’t look too challenging as the seed he would be slated to face in the quarters is Alex Bogolomov. Kunitsyn, Malisse and Harrison are other likely matchups. A possible semi-final battle with Juan Monaco looms large though and while Monaco is only the 4 seed, he would certainly be favored on clay over Fish. For Monaco’s part, he will likely face Anderson in the quarters but he will be favored in all of his matches.
2 seed John Isner,who has really picked up his clay court game including wins over Roger Federer and Gilles Simon on the clay in Davis Cup play, faces a draw that could give him a quarter final match up against defending Houston champion Ryan Sweeting and a semi-final match up against veteran Spaniard Feliciano Lopez. As for the defending champion, Sweeting, he will face a qualifier in the 1st round and then a possible 2nd round matchup against the always hard to handle Ivo Karlovic. If he can get that far, he would likely face Isner in the quarters.
6 seed Carlos Berlocq of Argentina, who has performed well on clay this year, gets James Blake in the 1st round and fellow countryman Diego Junquiera or veteran German Bjorn Phau in the 2nd round. He could have a quarter final match up with the 3 seed Lopez, who will face either Wayne Odesnik or Paolo Lorenzi in the 2nd round.
Dark Horse: Daniel Gimeno-Traver
The veteran Spaniard loves the clay and has always played his best on the surface. If he can get past a qualifier in the 1st round and then notch a victory against the somewhat slumping Mardy Fish (who is never that comfortable on clay anyway), the only other seeded players he would have to face en route to the final would be Bogomolov and Juan Monaco. It is a winnable draw if he has a good week.
Monaco d. Gimeno-Traver
Berlocq d. Isner
Monaco d. Berlocq