By The Sports Xchange
Fernando Verdasco claimed a hard-fought 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4) victory over Kevin Anderson and won his opening match of the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston on Wednesday.
The 33-year-old Spaniard recorded his 199th career victory on a clay court by withstanding a fierce challenge from his South African opponent in a nearly two-hour match.
Verdasco, who won this event three years ago, overcame eight aces by Anderson. The fifth-seeded Verdasco’s match was postponed by rain Tuesday, but he worked around the difficult serves by Anderson and improved to 11-7 this season.
“It was a really complicated, tough first round,” Verdasco said. “He has one of the best serves on tour. Even if he’s on clay, he’s super tough to return. … I feel lucky that I’ve been able to win both tiebreaks.”
Verdasco will meet Argentine Nicolas Kicker in the second round.
While Verdasco won, American Donald Young was eliminated in straight sets by Brazil’s Thiago Monterio. Young, the seventh seed, was handed a 6-3, 6-4 defeat.
On Thursday, the top four seeds, who are all Americans, will be in action in second-round matches after getting first-round byes.
Defending champion Jack Sock will face Tommy Haas of Germany. No. 2 seed John Isner opposes Leonardo Mayer of Argentina. Third-seeded Sam Querrey will face Horacio Zeballos of Argentina, and fourth-seeded Steve Johnson will square off against Dustin Brown of Germany