Monday, April 08, 2019

Steve Johnson begins quest for third straight U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship title

Story and Photo Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved

HOUSTON, TEXAS (April 8, 2019) It is an occurrence that has not occurred since 1938. In that year, Seabiscuit beat War Admiral, the New York Giants beat the Green Bay Packers 23-17 for the NFL title, and the New York Yankees swept the Chicago Cubs in four straight games to claim the World Series. In addition, Bobby Riggs won his third consecutive U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship title. At River Oaks Country Club in Houston, Steve Johnson, who was the champion in 2017 and 2018, will attempt to the match Riggs’ success in winning the 2019 title.

Play at River Oaks kicks off on Monday, with Johnson slated to begin take to the court on Thursday, as the number one seed. He will face the winner of the Daniel Elahi Galan (Columbia) versus Paolo Lorenzi (Italy). The Galan-Lorenzi match will be on court three on Tuesday, April 9 with a 12 noon CDT start.

This is the second ATP Tour tournament at which Johnson has held the number one seed. His other top seeding was at Newport in 2016. He is 11-4 lifetime at River Oaks, winning his last nine matches. The 29-year-old Johnson, who is ranked No. 39 in the world, is coming off Round of 64 loss to Joao Sousa at the ATP Masters 1000 Miami. In the same tournament, Johnson teamed with Marcel Granollers; losing in the doubles bracket to Nikola Mektic and Dominic Thiem. In the 2017 Clay Court Championship, Johnson downed Thomaz Bellucci (Brazil) 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(7-5) for his first title, following up with a 7-6(7-2), 2-6, 6-4 win over Tennys Sandgren in 2018.

Bill Tilden won six consecutive clay court championships from 1922 to 1927, in addition to the title in 1918. Since the championship has been held in Houston, Andy Roddick has won three titles (2001, 2002, 2005) and Juan Monaco has two (2012, 2016).

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