Steve Johnson is aiming to win the 2019 US Men’s Clay Court Championship for the third year in a row, with the American’s hopes of achieving the feat boosted by John Isner’s withdrawal.
John Isner was pegged as the top seed for this week’s event in Houston but had to pull out due to a foot injury, paving the way for compatriot Johnson to take his place as the top seed.
Recommended Betting Sites for the Men’s Clay Court Championship
A regular at the event, Isner won the title back in 2013 but was unable to return to try and collect a second crown due to an injury sustained against Roger Federer in the recent Miami final.
“It is very disappointing to not compete there this year. I am hopeful that I will be back on the court in a few weeks,” the American said on having to withdraw from the event.
In the absence of Isner, Johnson is the favourite to triumph at a tournament where he has enjoyed some of the best success in his career to date.
The defending champion can be backed at 7/1 to win the title for the third year in a row, becoming the first person to achieve the feat since Bobby Riggs 70 years ago. But is there better value to be found elsewhere in the betting for the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships?
Clay Court Swing Gets Underway
This time of year can always be tricky from a tennis betting point of view due to the change of surface. The U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships takes place on the brown stuff as players begin to build towards the second major of the year, the French Open at Roland Garros.
There is also the small matter of three Masters 1000 level events to compete in over the next few weeks: the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, Mutua Madrid Open and Rome. There are still plenty of ranking points to play for before the grass-court season gets underway.
River Oaks Country Club is the venue for this week’s U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships with the young American pair of Reilly Opelka and Taylor Fritz among those out to impress.
Sam Querrey is another big name who will be hoping to make an impact on home soil, with the experienced player available to back at a price of 14/1 to win the title. Querrey has been to the final of this tournament twice without being able to claim the trophy.
There are a few clay-court specialists to be aware of as well, with the likes of Pablo Cuevas (offered at odds of 10/1) likely to be a major threat over the course of the next few days of play.
It promises to be a fascinating U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships with Opelka backed to do well by the bookmakers, who offer a best price of 8/1 for him to triumph in Houston.
Johnson Bidding to Make History
The U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships is one of the oldest tournaments on the ATP Tour, but few have been able to dominate like Steve Johnson has in the last couple of years at the event.
In 2017, he won the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships for the first time, coming out on top against the Brazilian player Thomaz Belluccia. Just a year later, he was back to do it again.
The second time around it was Tennys Sandgren who found himself beaten by Johnson at the final hurdle. If the 29-year-old can do it again, he will write his name into the history books. Sandgren, incidentally, is back this year and he can be backed to go one better at a price of 33/1.
Bobby Riggs is the only player in the history of the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships to win the tournament three years in a row and the last of his treble of titles came over 70 years ago.
Johnson will therefore be in the spotlight this week and the Californian is set to get his campaign under way against Paolo Lorenzi in the second round after receiving a bye, assuming the Italian comes through his opening clash against a qualifier.
Seventh seed Jordan Thompson could then await in the quarter-finals, with the Australian priced up by the bookmakers for this week’s U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships at around 33/1.
Will big servers thrive?
Reilly Opelka is well-fancied by the bookmakers for the 2019 U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships title and there is no doubt that his serve is a potent weapon that always makes him a threat.
But a clay surface will not necessarily be the most useful for him to be able to dominate at the start of points and opponents may fancy their chance of taking on that big serve.
Particularly of note for Opelka’s chances in Houston this week is the fact he has not won a single match in previous visits to the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships. The 21-year-old is promising, though, and he beat Isner on his way to glory at the New York Open.
Another big server who will catch the eye is Ivo Karlovic. He opens up with an intriguing first round clash against Ryan Harrison and they are in the bottom half of the draw, away from Johnson and his bid to win the title for the third year on the trot.
Karlovic is offered at 16/1 despite the fact that he is now 40 years of age and is slowly slipping down the world rankings, sitting in 77th place going into this week’s event. He has also failed to win a title since 2016, but he did win the Houston crown all the way back in 2007.
U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships Best Bets
Steve Johnson is the obvious selection here. Although he is not a particularly exciting or flashy player to watch, he gets the job done as shown by his wins here in each of the last two years.
How he copes with the burden of expectations on his shoulders remains to be seen, but 7/1 appears to be a very fair price for someone who will be happy to be back in Houston this week.
From the bottom half of the draw, the best selection might just be Pablo Cuevas at 10/1. He is always a major threat on clay courts but often seems to go somewhat under the radar.
He is not having a great year so far – although a couple of wins at the Miami Open offered more promising signs – but six career titles, all won on clay, shows he is a danger.
For those looking for a bigger price, perhaps an option on an each way basis, the controversial figure of Tennys Sandgren may appeal. Odds of 33/1 for last year’s beaten finalist seem quite generous.