Isner Looks To Continue Momentum In Houston
John Isner is fresh off the biggest title of his career, as the 32-year-old became the oldest first-time ATP World Tour Masters 1000 champion when he triumphed at the Miami Open presented by Itau last weekend.
Now, it’s on to the next challenge for the American — Isner will have to immediately dig into the red clay of the River Oaks Country Club as he seeks his second tour-level clay-court title, and his second in Houston at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship.
“It's up to me now to keep pushing forward,” Isner said after his Miami victory. “This is a big hurdle for me, mentally more than anything, to get over the hump in a tournament like this.”
And it may not be long until the top seed faces a stern challenge in Houston, which is the right-hander’s home event — he now resides in Dallas. The World No. 9 will face German Dustin Brown or Swiss Henri Laaksonen in the second round. Isner lost against Brown in a third-set tie-break in Houston four years ago when he was attempting to defend his 2013 title.
Past Five Houston Champions
But Isner is not the only American seeded at the only ATP World Tour clay-court event in North America. He is projected to face sixth-seeded compatriot Steve Johnson in the quarter-finals for the right to potentially play No. 3 Jack Sock or No. 7 Ryan Harrison in the semi-finals.
Harrison became the youngest player — and remains so — to win an ATP World Tour Match since Rafael Nadal (2002 Mallorca) at 15 years old in Houston 10 years ago, qualifying before defeating Pablo Cuevas. The American, who advanced to the Brisbane final earlier this year, makes his return to Houston for the first time since that breakthrough when he faces a qualifier in the first round.
One of Querrey’s potential semi-final opponents is making his debut in Houston — third seed Nick Kyrgios. The Australian, who is one of two players to have beaten Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings (Lleyton Hewitt), will open against compatriot Jordan Thompson or American Bjorn Fratangelo.
Two #NextGenATP Americans who have gotten off to fast starts in 2018 will look to continue their good form. Frances Tiafoe, who at the Delray Beach Open became the youngest American to win an ATP World Tour title since Andy Roddick at 2002 Houston, will look to back up his Round of 16 appearance in Miami with a first-round win against wild card Mackenzie McDonald. Taylor Fritz, 20, who achieved his best Masters 1000 result by reaching the fourth round at the BNP Paribas Open, takes on compatriot Tim Smyczek.