The only ATP-level clay-court tournament in the U.S. kicked off April 8 in Houston at the 2019 Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships.
The 28-player ATP 250 contest at River Oaks Country Club features a mix of veteran talent and young up-and-comers, including 21-year-olds Taylor Fritz (+1050) and Reilly Opelka, the current favorite at +675 as of Monday.
Opelka, a 6’11” Florida native, earned his first ATP tournament title at the New York Open in February and is now ranked 56th in the world. He secured one of the top four seeds in this week’s tournament and a first-round bye, along with Jeremy Chardy of France (+775), Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie (+1100) and two-time defending champion Steve Johnson (+700).
Johnson, age 29, received a top seed in the tournament after John Isner withdrew due to a foot injury he suffered in the Miami Open final. Now, Johnson will look to become the third player to accomplish a three-peat at River Oaks behind Bobby Riggs and Bill Tilden.
Second-seeded Chardy is currently ranked No. 42 in the world. He’ll face either 22-year-old Chilean Christian Garin or 33-year-old Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay in the second round. As for Norrie, another young star at age 23, he could face 2018 finalist Tennys Sandgren or 34-year-old Serbian Janko Tipsarevic in the next round.
The championship weekend will also consist of a 16-team doubles field highlighted by Bob and Mike Bryan, six-time winners at River Oaks. The twins are 40-10 in the tournament and have finished 10 seasons as the No. 1-ranked team in the world.
Notable names who have previously won the clay-court singles title include Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt. Hewitt and Jordan Thompson of Australia will compete in doubles play. The young duo of Fritz and Opelka will also team up in doubles competition, with the chance to bring home even more hardware should one of them surprise the field and take home a singles championship on Sunday.
Follow live odds updates on singles and doubles competition at BetAmerica.