HOUSTON – Americans Steve Johnson and Rhyne Williams, who played each other in the 2011 NCAA title match, have accepted the final two wild cards for the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship that will be held at River Oaks Country Club April 7-13. This year’s event will mark the 80th tournament to have been hosted at River Oaks.
Johnson won back-to-back NCAA singles titles, including in 2011 when he beat Williams in the final. He was also a four-time NCAA Team Champion during his career at the University of Southern California. At ATP events this season, he reached his first career semifinal at Delray Beach and was also a quarterfinalist at Auckland. He is 9-1 in Texas this season, having won a title and reached another final at Challenger events near Dallas.
Williams broke through to reach his first career ATP semifinal last year in Houston. He was a two-time All-American at the University of Tennessee before going pro after his sophomore season. Earlier this season he reached the quarterfinals at the ATP event in Delray Beach.
Three other Americans, including Houston resident and 2012 semifinalist Michael Russell, have recently joined the field following withdrawals by other players. Russell, Jack Sock and Denis Kudla have been added to the field following the withdrawals of Pablo Cuevas, Alejando Falla and Bradley Klahn.
Johnson and Williams join former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis as the wild card recipients for the 2014 tournament. The final four spots in the 28-player field will be determined during a three-round qualifying tournament this weekend. The qualifying matches on Saturday and Sunday are free for the public to attend.
The main draw will take place Friday afternoon. Defending champion John Isner, who is ranked No. 9 in the world, will be the top seed. Former champions Juan Monaco (2012), Lleyton Hewitt (2009) and Ivo Karlovic (2007) are also entered in the tournament along with 2013 runner-up Nicolas Almagro. VIEW FULL ENTRY LIST
Two of the top doubles teams on the ATP World Tour have also committed to play the 2014 tournament. Bob and Mike Bryan, the twin-brother tandem that has won four titles at the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship, and the Spanish duo of Fernando Verdasco and David Marrero, champions at the 2013 ATP World Tour Finals, have both been entered into the doubles draw, which will be made Saturday.
In 2014, River Oaks Country Club will celebrate hosting a tournament for the 80th time since its inauguration in 1931. The upcoming tournament will also mark the 104th staging of the US Men’s Clay Court Championship.
The tournament will begin with qualifying rounds on April 5-6 that are free to spectators. Main draw play gets underway Monday, April 7.
For more information, please visit www.mensclaycourt.com.