Saturday, April 4, 2015

U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship Preview

As usual, the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship is full of Americans, but it's a pair of Spaniards who make up the top two seeds.  There doesn't appear to be a clear favorite, and lots of players are capable of making a deep run.

Feliciano Lopez is your top seed, and should reach the quarters without much trouble.  In the quarters, expect him to run into American Donald Young.  Young has to get by fellow American Steve Johnson and then possibly Sam Querrey, but is in good form and should start improving his results on clay now that he has tightened up his game.  While Lopez is up to 12 in the world and is having a solid year, he's not a natural clay court player and Young is the pick here to pull the upset. 

In the next section, John Isner and Fernando Verdasco should meet in the quarters without much trouble getting there.  Verdasco's results on clay so far this year haven't been anything special, and Isner's confidence will be high following his great run in Miami.  Expect Isner to get past the veteran Spaniard in three sets on his way to the semis. 

The top section of the bottom half isn't particularly strong, with 7th seed Jeremy Chardy struggling and 3rd seed Kevin Anderson not being much of a threat on clay.  While Federico Delbonis has largely disappointed so far this year, the 24 year old Argentinean loves playing on clay and should be able to make it out of this section based on his clay court skills.

The bottom quarter is definitely deeper, and includes 2nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut, 5th seed Santiago Giraldo, Jack Sock and Janko Tipsarevic (returning from a long layoff).  While Sock just beat Baustista Agut on hard courts, Bautista Agut gets the edge on clay.  Giraldo posted some big results on clay last year, but fell to Bautista Agut in straight sets.  It should be a tight match, but the 15th ranked Bautista Agut should get past Giraldo in the quarters.

In the first semifinals, Isner should prove to be a little too much for Young.  He's never lost to Young in three meetings, although Donald Young in 2015 is a different player.  Regardless, Isner turned his season around in Miami and should ride the momentum into the finals.

In the second semifinals, Bautista Agut should beat Delbonis without too much trouble.  They've never played at the ATP level, though Bautista Agut did beat Delbonis the one time they've played back in 2012.  While Delbonis will be more comfortable on clay than his first few opponents, this won't be the case against Bautista Agut. 

In the finals, the Spaniard gets the slight edge given his comfort on the surface.  In their two prior matches (both on hard court) Isner won 6-4 on the third.  The change in surface should be all Bautista Agut needs to get his first win against the tall American.  Isner may be a bit drained by the finals given his long week in Miami the week before, and is likely to fall just short of the title.  

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