The U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship is one of the oldest running tournaments in the world, starting in Omaha way back in 1910 and standing as the very last ATP tournament in North America staged on clay.
The event had changed numerous locations in the following decades before it settled in Indianapolis between 1969-1987. It moved to Houston in 2001 and stayed there ever since at the beautiful River Oaks Country Club (new complex was completed in March 2009), with a decent field of players fighting for the title every April.
The tournament has become a part of the official ATP Tour in 1970 and it stayed in the calendar ever since, with Manuel Orantes, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander, Andre Agassi, Michael Chang, Jim Courrier, Andy Roddick, John Isner and Tommy Haas among the winners.
Ryan Sweeting, John Isner and Jack Sock have kept the American flag high in Houston in the last couple of years and it is Steve Johnson who secured that the home nation has five of the last eight champions, winning back-to-back titles in 2017-18 to become the first title defended since Andy Roddick in 2002.
The 29-year-old has won two ATP titles in 2018, adding Newport to his Houston trophy and he will there to defend the title at the River Oaks Country Club between April 6-14, signing to play at one of his favorite tournaments for the seventh year in a row and looking to extend his nine-match winning streak.
Only two players in the history of the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship have won the title three times in a row, Bobby Riggs and a great Bill Tilden, while the only three-time repeated winner at River Oaks is Bitsy Grant who achieved that back in the 30s.
The 85th edition of the tennis tournament at River Oaks also welcomes the two-time finalist Sam Querrey and the six-time doubles champions Bob and Mike Bryan. “Stevie has been a wonderful champion for our event, and we’re thrilled he will be returning this Spring,” said Tournament Director Bronwyn Greer.
“His wins at River Oaks have been very emotional for him. We look forward to welcoming him back as he attempts to make more history at our storied event.”