HOUSTON – The first main draw wild card entries and the initial qualifying field for the 2018 Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship have been announced.
Ernesto Escobedo, who reached the US Clay semifinals in 2017, and Dustin Brown, a quarterfinalist in 2014, have both been awarded wild cards for the 2018 tournament that will be held April 7-15 at River Oaks Country Club.
Seven of the initial 15 entrants into the qualifying field are American. Four men will advance from through the two-round, 16-player draw to reach the main event.
“We are very proud to have a deep field in both the main draw and in qualifying,” said Tournament Director Bronwyn Greer. “The strength of this field from top to bottom will mean high quality matches throughout our entire event week, from the first round of qualifying until the championship match.”
Escobedo returns to the site of his career-best tournament. As a wild card in 2017, he reached the semifinals, a run that included a 7-6(6) 6-7(6) 7-6(5) win over 2013 champion John Isner in the quarterfinals. That result helped the Mexican-American break into the Top 75 of the Emirates ATP Rankings last summer. He is the 10th American player in the 2018 field.
Brown returns to River Oaks to play singles after finishing as doubles runner-up last year with Frances Tiafoe. A fan-favorite in Houston, Brown is 3-2 at the tournament, having reached the quarterfinals in 2014. The son of a Jamaican father and German mother, the dread-locked Brown owns seven career Challenger titles, including three wins on clay.
These two join the field of 21 players who were previously announced. That initial entry list included five past champions (http://www.mensclaycourt.com/news/initial-entry-list-released-for-2018-us-clay-515). The tournament has one additional wild card to award for the main draw.
Four players will join that main draw field through the qualifying tournament. The qualifying field includes players with past US Clay success, including 2017 runner-up Thomaz Bellucci, 2016 quarterfinalist Tim Smyczek and 2012 quarterfinalist Carlos Berlocq.
The field also includes a former collegiate No. 1 from Texas Christian, Cameron Norrie; two NCAA singles champions, MacKenzie McDonald (2016) and Bradley Klahn (2010); two former French Open junior champions in Tommy Paul (2015) and Bjorn Fratangelo (2011); and two rising Japanese players – Taro Daniel, who defeated Novak Djokovic last week at Indian Wells, and Yoshihito Nishioka, a wild card entrant who is returning to tour after a knee injury.
Here is the initial entry list of 15 players for the 2018 Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship qualifying event:
(ATP Rank) Name, Age, Country • Mini bio
(105) Cameron Norrie, 22, Great Britain • NCAA No. 1 player in 2017 for TCU
(109) Bjorn Fratangelo, 24, USA • Pittsburgh native won 2011 French Open junior title
(111) Taro Daniel, 25, Japan • Beat Djokovic at Indian Wells; Owns three clay Challenger titles
(117) Tim Smyczek, 30, USA • 2016 US Clay quarterfinalist; Winner of seven Challenger titles
(126) Peter Polansky, Canada • Reached finals at three straight Canadian Challengers last July
(127) Blaz Kavcic, 31, Slovenia • Winner of 16 Challenger titles, including seven on clay
(132) Henri Laaksonen, 25, Switzerland • Made first ATP QF last summer; 3-0 in Challenger finals
(134) Carlos Berlocq, 35, Argentina • Two ATP clay court titles; Seeking sixth US Clay appearance
(135) Thomaz Bellucci, 30, Brazil • 2017 US Clay runner-up; Owns four career ATP clay titles
(143) MacKenzie McDonald, 22, USA • 2016 NCAA singles and doubles champion for UCLA
(144) Denis Kudla, 25, USA • 2010 US Open junior finalist (lost to Jack Sock); Owns six Challenger titles
(159) Tommy Paul, 20, USA • 2015 French Open junior champion and US Open junior runner-up
(163) Bradley Klahn, 27, USA • 2010 NCAA singles champion at Stanford, Owns five Challenger titles
(164) Dennis Novikov, 24, USA • 2013 NCAA team finalist at UCLA; 2012 USTA Boys 18s champion
(374) Yoshihito Nishioka, 22, Japan • Wild card entry; Ranked No. 58 when suffered ACL injury in 2017
On additional player will be awarded a wild card for the qualifying tournament. The two rounds of qualifying play will be held Saturday and Sunday, April 7-8, and is free for spectators.
Limited tickets remain available for select main draw sessions of the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship. To purchase tickets or for more information visit www.mensclaycourt.com.