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Verdasco

Fernando Verdasco Wins the 2014 Fayez Sarofim & Co. US Men’s Clay Court Championship

Verdasco

Sunday’s final at the 2014 Fayez Sarofim & Co. US Men’s Clay Court Championship began an hour earlier than scheduled, due to potentially bad weather late in the afternoon. The decision to move the match up in order to avoid rain delays in a third set is just one example of the intelligent way this tournament is run; everything is planned with the logical aim of creating the best possible experience for the players and the spectators.

The third set rain never interfered, however, and it took the talented and charming Fernando Verdasco only two sets to win his first title since 2010, when he defeated Nicolas Almagro with a final score of 6-3, 7-6 (4).

It wasn’t always clear who would win in the one hour and 52 minute match. The world No. 26 had trailed by a break in the second set. After getting back on serve he faced the challenge of saving five set points at 4-5. At that point, Verdasco forced a tiebreaker. Once he achieved that, he continued to battle his way to victory. In doing so, he captured his first singles title since 2010 (in Barcelona).

But that was just the final moment in a week of great tennis and even better weather, at a tournament that knows how to create and sustain an environment of entertaining and exciting tennis-going. What really makes a tournament great? The people, of course. And there’s just something about the crowds at River Oaks that makes it one of the friendliest places to watch great tennis around. The tournament celebrates its 80th year this year, which probably accounts for the high level of tennis knowledge amongst the spectators. While in the area outside the stadium, it may appear that everyone showed up for a fun social event (looking good and happy to see one another), don’t be fooled. These folks know their tennis and they are a great audience — respectful and enthusiastic and supportive of a good match.

Here are just a few photos I was able to take from a great week of play on the Texas clay…

Glay_footprints

handshake

Isner_face

Lleyton Hewitt

Lleyton Hewitt

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Ivo Karlovic

Ivo Karlovic

Clyde Drexler & Paul Kinney

Clyde Drexler & Paul Kinney

Donald Young

Donald Young

John Isner

John Isner

Jack Sock

Jack Sock

The Bryan brothers and Nicholas Monroe

The Bryan brothers and Nicholas Monroe

Sam Querrey

Sam Querrey

Thanasi Kokkinakis

Thanasi Kokkinakis

Jack Sock

Jack Sock

Ryan Harrison

Ryan Harrison

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And, don’t forget, the 2015 tournament is already on its way!
2015

Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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Nicolas Almagro (left) and Fernando Verdasco (right)

FAYEZ SAROFIM & CO. US MEN’S CLAY COURT CHAMPIONSHIP – SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS

Nicolas Almagro (left) and Fernando Verdasco (right)

Nicolas Almagro (left) and Fernando Verdasco (right)

The Spanish Armada Of Tennis Players Came To Houston And The Result Is That Spaniards Nicolas Almagro & Fernando Verdasco Will Battle For The River Oaks Title At The Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship

The fourth-seeded Verdasco beat Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo 6-4, 7-5 on Saturday, and the third-seeded Almagro advanced when American Sam Querrey pulled out because of a back injury.

In the doubles tournament, Bob and Mike Bryan won their fifth doubles title in Houston, defeating the Spanish pair of David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 6-4, 11-9 in the final. The Bryans previously won in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011, and lost in the 2013 final. So far, the Bryans have won four titles this season (Delray Beach, Indian Wells, Miami and, now, Houston). Expect that number to grow, of course. They have 97 ATP Tour titles, 36 more than any other team.

Bob and Mike Bryan celebrate yet another final win at Houston's River Oaks Country Club

Bob and Mike Bryan celebrate yet another final win at Houston’s River Oaks Country Club

RESULTS – SATURDAY, APRIL 12, 2014
Singles Semifinal Round
[3] Nicolas Almagro (Spain) d Sam Querrey (USA) walkover
[4] Fernando Verdasco (Spain) d Santiago Giraldo (Colombia) 64 75

Doubles Semifinal Round
[1] Bob Bryan (USA) / Mike Bryan (USA) d [2] David Marrero (Spain) / Fernando Verdasco (Spain) 46 64 11-9

ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY, APRIL 13, 2014
CENTER COURT 1:00 pm
Singles Final
[3] Nicolas Almagro (Spain) vs [4] Fernando Verdasco (Spain)

This is the first U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship final to feature two players from the same country since 2003 when Andre Agassi defeated Andy Roddick.

Please note that Sunday’s final will begin at 1 p.m., earlier than previously announced.
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Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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SQ

FAYEZ SAROFIM & CO. US MEN’S CLAY COURT CHAMPIONSHIP – FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS

SQAmerican Sam Querrey is into his first semifinal of the ATP season after defeating Germany’s Dustin Brown 6-3, 6-7(8), 6-3. Querrey fought hard in the second set, but it took three to finish the job.

In the semifinal on Saturday, Querrey will play 2013 finalist Nicolas Almagro, who defeated Jack Sock 6-2 6-4. The Spaniard now boasts a 236-112 career record on clay, giving him the third-most clay wins behind Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer. Almagro was the runner-up in this tourament last year, losing to American John Isner in the final.

Spain’s Fernando Verdasco had a busy (and productive) day; he achieved his 164th career clay court win, defeating American Donald Young 7-6(1), 6-1. In the singles semifinal, Verdasco will face Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo, who defeated Alejandro Gonzalez 6-3, 6-4. Verdasco also teamed with fellow Spaniard David Marrero to defeat the Colombians Giraldo and Gonzalez 6-4, 6-2. Verdasco/Marrero will play four-time champions Bob and Mike Bryan in the Doubles final.

The Bryan brothers reached their seventh U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship final with a 7-5, 6-3 Australian team of Chris Guccione and Lleyton Hewitt. It was the 16th straight win overall for the Bryans who have won 22 of their last 23 matches here.

RESULTS — FRIDAY, APRIL 11:

Men’s Singles – Quarterfinal

S Querrey d. D Brown 63, 67(8), 63

[3] N Almagro d. J Sock 62, 64

[4] F Verdasco d. D Young 76(1), 61

S Giraldo d A Gonzalez 63, 64

Men’s Doubles – Semifinal

[1] B Bryan / M Bryan d. C Guccione / L Hewitt 75, 63

[2] D Marrero / F Verdasco d. S Giraldo / A Gonzalez 64, 62

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Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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Jack Sock moves on to the Quarterfinals in Houston

FAYEZ SAROFIM & CO. US MEN’S CLAY COURT CHAMPIONSHIP – THURSDAY HIGHLIGHTS

Jack Sock moves on to the Quarterfinals in Houston

Jack Sock moves on to the Quarterfinals in Houston

THREE AMERICANS INTO THE QUARTERFINALS of the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship

For the third straight year, three Americans have reached the quarterfinals at River Oaks. Should Sam Querrey, Jack Sock or Donald Young win Friday, it will mark the 14th consecutive year that an American has reached the semifinals of this tournament. 
Jack Sock, Dustin Brown and Alejandro Gonzalez will all be attempting to reach their first career ATP World Tour semifinal in Friday’s matches. Also, for Jack Sock and Donald Young, this marks their first quarterfinal on clay.

The last (and only time) they were scheduled to play together, Jack Sock got a walkover from Benjamin Becker. That was in 2012 at the Tiburon Challenger, where Sock went on to win the tournament. When they finally met on Thursday afternoon, the biggest foe for each seemed to be the gusts of wind that unpredictably came and went. Perhaps the wind accounted for Sock’s low first serve percentage (45%), but it didn’t stop him from defeating Germany’s Benjamin Becker, 6-4, 6-3.

Although the Houston tournament attracts numerous Spanish and South American players, many of whom are clay court specialists, don’t forget that there are American players just as devoted to the surface, including Sock. “Actually, clay might be my favorite surface of all,” said Sock, after the match. “It suits my game and I always look forward to the clay court season.”

In the quarterfinal, Jack Sock will face third seed Nicolas Almagro. Last year’s runner-up, Almagro is the tournament’s highest remaining seeded player. Almagro is tied for third among active players for career clay court wins with 235. The other seven quarterfinalists have a combined 256 clay victories. The quarterfinals will be shown live on TV’s Tennis Channel.

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RESULTS – THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 2014

Singles Second Round

Santiago Gonzalez (Colombia) d [2] Tommy Robredo (Spain) 6-3, 6-4
[3]
Nicolas Almagro (Spain) d Michael Russell (USA) 6-2, 6-3
[4]
Fernando Verdasco (Spain) d [WC] Steve Johnson (USA) 6-0, 4-6, 6-3

Alejandro Gonzalez (Colombia) d [5] Feliciano Lopez (Spain) 6-3, 2-0, ret. (illness)

Donald Young (USA) d [6] Juan Monaco (Argentina) 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3

Jack Sock (USA) d Benjamin Becker (Germany) 6-4, 6-3

Doubles Quarterfinal Round

[2] David Marrero (Spain) / Fernando Verdasco (Spain) d Benjamin Becker (Germany) / Rameez Junaid (Australia) 6-3, 6-1

Santiago Giraldo (Colombia) / Alejandro Gonzalez (Colombia) d Benjamin Becker (Germany) / Rameez Junaid (Australia) 16 76(1) 11-9 

Chris Guccione (Australia) / Lleyton Hewitt (Australia) d Purav Raja (India) / Divij Sharan (India) 62 64



ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2014

CENTER COURT
start 12:00 noon

Donald Young (USA) vs [4] Fernando Verdasco (Spain)

Not Before 2:00 pm

Alejandro Gonzalez (Colombia) vs Santiago Giraldo (Colombia)

Not Before 4:00 pm

[1] Bob Bryan (USA) / Mike Bryan (USA) vs Chris Guccione (Australia) / Lleyton Hewitt (Australia)

Not Before 6:00 pm

Dustin Brown (Germany) vs Sam Querrey (USA)

[3] Nicolas Almagro (Spain) vs Jack Sock (USA)

COURT 3
start 5:00 pm

After Appropriate Rest – Santiago Giraldo (Colombia) / Alejandro Gonzalez (Colombia) vs [2] David Marrero (Spain) / Fernando Verdasco (Spain)

Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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LH_SQ_2

FAYEZ SAROFIM & CO. US MEN’S CLAY COURT CHAMPIONSHIP – WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS

LH_SQ_2The Main Draw got a whole lot more enticing Wednesday night for the remaining players in the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship at the River Oaks Country Club in Houston. That’s because Germany’s Dustin Brown eliminated the defending champ, American John Isner, in a third-set tiebreak 64, 67(7), 76(4). The No. 101-ranked Dustin Brown suddenly became a favorite with the Houston crowd, with his precision when it counted and for his relaxed style of play the rest of the time.

(Photo: Lleyton Hewitt)

(Photo: Lleyton Hewitt)

Earlier in the day, Australian Lleyton Hewitt went out in a cloud of Houston dust Wednesday afternoon — dust that he kicked up trying valiantly to defeat American Sam Querrey and make it to the third round. Still, Sam Querrey was victorious with a score of 63, 64. With the win, Querrey has reached his first ATP quarterfinal of 2014, where he will face Dustin Brown.

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RESULTS – WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9, 2014

Singles First Round

Dustin Brown (Germany) d [1] John Isner (USA) 64 67(7) 76(4)

Sam Querrey (USA) d [7] Lleyton Hewitt (Australia) 63 64
Singles First Round

[6] Juan Monaco (Argentina) d Somdev Devvarman (India) 76(4) 62

Santiago Giradlo (Colombia) d Matthew Ebden (Australia) 61 62



Doubles First Round

[2] David Marrero (Spain) / Fernando Verdasco (Spain) d Jonathan Erlich (Israel) / Michal Mertinak 64 62

Purav Raja (India) / Divij Shara (India) d [3] Santiago Gonzalez (Mexico) / Scott Lipsky (USA) 75 62

Santiago Giraldo (Colombia) / Alejandro Gonzalez (Colombia) d [4] Mate Pavic (Croatia) / John-Patrick Smith (Australia) 76(7) 64

Chris Guccione (Australia) / Lleyton Hewitt (Australia) d Marin Draganja (Croatia) / Gero Kretschmer (Germany) 64 64

Benjamin Becker (Germany) / Rameez Junaid (Australia) d [WC] Steve Johnson (USA) / Sam Querrey (USA) 76(1) 62

Austin Krajicek (USA) / Michael Venus (New Zealand) d [ALT] Thiemo de Bakker / Melle van Gemerden 63 75



Doubles Quarterfinal Round

[1] Bob Bryan (USA) / Mike Bryan (USA) d Matthew Ebden (Australia) / Sam Groth (Australia) 62 36 12-10 (saved 1 MP)

Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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Lleyton1

FAYEZ SAROFIM & CO. US MEN’S CLAY COURT CHAMPIONSHIP – TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS

Lleyton1Lleyton Hewitt’s victory over Peter Polansky Tuesday at the 2014 Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston, gives him a 601-242 career record. He is only the third active player with more than 600 match wins, joining Roger Federer (947-219) and Rafael Nadal (679-132) in the elite statistical club. His defeat of Canadian Qualifier Peter Polansky (64 36 64) was accomplished in classic Hewitt style; every point mattered and every second was played as if it were matchpoint. No one can keep the crowd entertained with his conviction quite as much as Hewitt at this point in his career. The 135th-ranked Polansky made it though three tough qualifying matches to meet 46th-ranked Hewitt in the main draw, but the gusty winds threw the advantage in the direction of the more experienced Hewitt.

The crowd was also equally supportive of both Americans, Ryan Harrison and Donald Young, who played the second center court match of the day. As always, Ryan Harrison played with a high degree of self expectation. This can have its uses but it can also cause inner turmoil and lead to acts of frustration, which use more energy than they deserve. Yes, I’m talking about the seemingly inevitable Ryan Harrison racquet smash — which, at this point, one almost hopes to witness when buying a ticket to one of his matches. It’s becoming tradition, and there’s always room for a player who displays his passion about the game, right? But the question remains: will it help get the win? Only the future will tell; we’ll have to get back to that question then.

RH44 copy

Watching Harrison play against Donald Young, one is struck by one similar challenge they both have faced — the enormous pressure to succeed from an early age. It was a bit like watching some ‘Back To The Future’ tennis moment… with Ryan Harrison playing a version of who he might turn into … and Donald Young playing against some younger version of who he maybe once was.

In the end (more like from the beginning, actually), Ryan Harrison had difficulty battling the wind, the constant barrage of falling leaves onto the clay court, and what appeared to be an ongoing challenge with his back (which forced him to withdraw from the doubles tournament). The final score (60, 61) did not reflect the quality of play in the match.

RESULTS – TUESDAY, APRIL 8, 2014

Singles First Round

[5] Feliciano Lopez (Spain) d [Q] Robby Ginepri (USA) 75 62

[7] Lleyton Hewitt (Australia) d [Q] Peter Polansky (Canada) 64 36 64

Michael Russell (USA) d Daniel Gimeno-Traver (Spain) 63 76(2)

Benjamin Becker (Germany) d [Q] Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo (Spain) 61 16 63

Donald Young (USA) d [Q] Ryan Harrison (USA) 60 61

[WC] Steve Johnson (USA) d Denis Kudla (USA) 63 76(4)

Doubles First Round


[1] Bob Bryan (USA) / Mike Bryan (USA) d Nicholas Monroe (USA) / Donald Young (USA) 63 64


Matthew Ebden (Australia) / Sam Groth (Australia) d Ken Skupski (Great Britain) / Neal Skupski (Great Britain) 64 76(2)

Day three brings John Isner to the Center Court in an evening match versus Dustin Brown of Germany. Isner looks to be in great shape and eager to defend his title here in Houston.

JI_2

Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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After a hard fought match, Thanasi Kokkinakis (right) congratulates Robby Ginepri, who advances to the Main Draw.

Fayez Sarofim & Co. US Men’s Clay Court Championship – Monday Highlights

After a hard fought match, Thanasi Kokkinakis (right) congratulates Robby Ginepri, who advances to the Main Draw.

After a hard fought match, Thanasi Kokkinakis (right) congratulates Robby Ginepri, who advances to the Main Draw.


You win some, you lose some. With Robby Ginepri’s deserved win to gain entrance into the main draw, the tournament lost the chance to see one of tennis’ most exciting up and coming players in Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis. Ginepri defeated Kokkinakis in the final round of the qualifying tournament with a score of 75, 76(6).

The players were evenly matched in many ways, making for an intriguing game, with the two setting similar paces to their games (including occasional bursts of power and just as many temporary lulls). For every first serve that Kokkinakis had difficulty getting in, Ginepri had trouble hitting a return over the net. Then, suddenly, both had streaks where their serves could not fail. It was a steady first set seemingly on its way to a tiebreak.

Then, it happened — the twist of fate that determined the outcome of the match. Backing into himself to reach his backhand into a deep baseline ball, Thanasi Kokkinakis rolled his left ankle. After calling for a trainer to determine the severity of the injury, Kokkinakis decided to proceed, although he was obviously in some degree of discomfort. He quickly lost the next game, which resulted in Ginepri winning the first set.

Set two played out much like set one began, with the two players winning their respective service games. Somehow, Kokkinakis found a way to increase the efficiency of his strokes, counting on near perfect placement in order to avoid having to chase down returned balls. Kokkinakis dug deep and found within himself on a steely determination to continue the game. The second set went to a tiebreak, with Kokkinakis unable to pull ahead. The loss is shared by the Houston tennis fans, who will miss out on the opportunity to see one of the most exciting young players around. Until next year, that is.

In the other exciting qualifying final match of the day, Ryan Harrison came from (way) behind to defeat Ruben Bemelmans 1-6, 7-5, 7-6(3) in two hours and 17 minutes. It was a long, hard slog, but Harrison took control of the game just in time (saving 6 matchpoints along the way) and proved that he deserves a place in the Main Draw.

Jack Sock

Jack Sock

As for the first round action, the match of the day was American Jack Sock’s relaxed dismissal of the tournament’s 2007 champion Ivo Karlovic, of Croatia. This was the third meeting for the two players. Their previous two matches ended in victories for 6-foot-10 Karlovic. At first, it seemed the match would feature little besides the two players’ massive serves, with no promise of anything resembling a rally. But on Monday afternoon, Sock broke the Croatian’s giant serve twice in the first set and made it clear that he is serious about making advances in his personal game.

Dustin Brown, of Germany, also moved on, defeating American Rhyne Williams, who had reached last year’s semifinals, 6-1, 6-2. In the quick first-rounder, the dreadlocked German needed just 49 minutes to defeat Williams. Williams, an American wild card, had hopes of repeating his strong performance in 2013, when he reached the Houston semifinals.

RESULTS – MONDAY, APRIL 07, 2014
Singles First Round
Jack Sock (USA) d [8] Ivo Karlovic (Croatia) 6-1, 6-4
Sam Querrey (USA) d Alex Bogomolov, Jr. (Russia) 6-4, 7-6 (6)
Dustin Brown (Germany) d [WC] Rhyne Williams (USA) 6-1, 6-2
Alejandro Gonzalez (Colombia) d [WC] Marcos Baghdatis 4-6, 6-2, 6-1

Qualifying Final Round
[1] Ryan Harrison (USA) d [6] Ruben Bemelmans (Belgium) 1-6, 7-5, 7-6(3)
[3] Peter Polansky (Canada) d [5] Thiemo de Bakker (Netherlands) 6-4, 6-3
Robby Ginepri (USA) d Thanasi Kokkinakis (Australia) 7-5, 7-6 (6)
[7] Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo (Spain) d Takanyi Garanganga (Zimbabwe) 6-1, 5-7, 6-3

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Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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clay

HOUSTON CLAY COURT CHAMPIONSHIPS — AMERICANS JOHNSON, WILLIAMS ACCEPT WILD CARDS; SOCK GETS DIRECT ENTRY

clayAmericans 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 Jack Sock, Denis Kudla and 2012 semifinalist Michael Russell, have joined 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. To view the full entry list, click here.

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.

Limited tickets for the 2014 Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship remain available for select sessions. In addition, the “Ticket Turnback” program will return. Patrons holding tickets for sessions they cannot attend can return them to the box office where they will be resold at face value, with the full purchase price being donated to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. For more information, please visit www.mensclaycourt.com.

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Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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1

BAGHDATIS JOINS RIVER OAKS FIELD – Former Top 10 Player Receives Wild Card

1Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, a former Top 10 player and Australian Open finalist, has received the first wild card for the Fayez Sarofim & Co. US Men’s Clay Court Championship that will be held at River Oaks Country Club April 7-13.

Marcos Baghdatis has reached 11 career ATP finals, including the 2006 Australian Open where he fell to Roger Federer in the title match. Baghdatis is among the most successful Davis Cup players in history, and stands fifth among current players for most match wins with a 62-13 record overall and 43-3 mark in singles. His current 32-match Davis Cup singles winning streak is the second-longest in history and leads all active players.

Baghdatis, who was awarded the first of three wild cards for the tournament, joins a field that includes World No. 10 and defending champion John Isner along with former champions Juan Monaco (2012), Lleyton Hewitt (2009) and Ivo Karlovic (2007). Spaniards Tommy Robredo and Nicolas Almagro, two of only four active players on the ATP with more than 200 career match wins on clay, are also entered into the River Oaks tournament.

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 US 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. In addition, one of the hottest doubles tandems on tour – Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah – will come to Houston having reached three straight finals and five on the season, including this week in Miami.

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.

Limited tickets for the 2014 Fayez Sarofim & Co. US Men’s Clay Court Championship remain available for select sessions. In addition, the “Ticket Turnback” program will return. Patrons holding tickets for sessions they cannot attend can return them to the box office where they will be resold at face value, with the full purchase price being donated to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. For more information, please visit www.mensclaycourt.com.

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Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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1

Richard Gasquet Signs On For His First BB&T Atlanta Open

1The BB&T Atlanta Open has signed Richard Gasquet, the tournament’s first non-American Top 10 player, to play in its 2014 tournament. This will be Frenchman Gasquet’s first appearance in the BB&T Atlanta Open, which runs July 19-27.

Focused on giving fans a wide range of entertainment, the tournament is presenting Yacht Rock Revue on Wednesday, July 23, following the last match. The concert is included in the regular ticket price and will take place on Stadium Court. For tickets, click here.

With defending champ John Isner already signed to play, the tournament now has two players currently in the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings: Gasquet at No. 9 and Isner at No. 10. Also committed to play in the first men’s event in the Emirates Airline US Open Series, the road to America’s Grand Slam in New York, are No. 2 American Sam Querrey and France’s Gael Monfils.

A versatile player with a fluid, one-handed backhand, Gasquet has taken titles on four surfaces: hard, grass, clay and carpet. All-time great Roger Federer is the only other active player with titles on four surfaces. Gasquet has earned more than $10 million in prize money and reached No. 7 in the world at the age of 20. He has 10 ATP World Tour wins, three of which came in 2013. Gasquet reached the final of this year’s Montpellier tournament, losing to Monfils.

“Atlanta will host some of the most talented players in the world and we’re proud to add Richard Gasquet to the esteemed roster,” said Tournament Director and Chief Development Officer Eddie Gonzalez. “Our vision is for the BB&T Atlanta Open to be a ‘mini US Open,’ and, with this year’s world-class talent, this is our best field ever! We’re also excited to announce fan favorite band Yacht Rock Revue, which ticketholders can hear without leaving their seats. Fans will get to enjoy world-class tennis and then one of Atlanta’s most popular bands, all included in the ticket price.”

The Yacht Rock Revue is known as the finest tribute to ‘70s light rock. Their spot-on renditions of Hall & Oates, Michael McDonald and Steely Dan have enthralled fans across the United States and beyond.

With a new emphasis on themed days and nights, the following tentative events are in the works: free concerts in Central Park, the annual “Tennis Night on the Town” fundraising dinner to benefit the YMCA, Kids Day, Military Night, College Night, 80’s Night, Ladies Day, ALTA and USTA Night and Fan Appreciation Day. The USTA Family Zone will also be open throughout the tournament for persons of all ages to play tennis for free.

Weeklong Ticket Packages are on-sale now and include a ticket to all 11 sessions at Atlantic Station. Four different seating levels are offered and packages are priced as low as $35/ticket. Tickets can be purchased at www.bbtatlantaopen.com or by calling 404-941-9202.

Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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