The ATP Tour moves to clay this week with ATP 250 events in Houston and Marrakech. Taylor Fritz, Reilly Opelka and John Isner lead the field at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston, while Canadian star Felix Auger-Aliassime is chasing his second title of the year at the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech.
Both tournaments return after two years of absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Five things to watch in Marrakech 1) Will Felix bounce back?: Felix-Auger-Aliassime's strong start to 2022 has included ATP Cup glory with Canada and a maiden tour-level title in Rotterdam.
Now the 21-year-old will try to find better form on the clay of Marrakech, where he is the top favourite. Auger-Aliassime competes for the first time in the Grand Prix Hassan II. The 21-year-old has shown his ability on the surface before, reaching finals in Rio de Janeiro and Lyon in 2019.
He will hope to kick-start the next stage of his season when he takes on Moroccan WC Elliot Benchetrit in the first round. Rafael Nadal returned from a long-term foot problem in commanding fashion this year.
Ferrer opens up on Rafa Nadal
Rafael Nadal's plans for his clay season have been derailed by the rib injury he suffered at Indian Wells.
''There will surely be three 'top 10' (Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud, and Hubert Hurkacz) and 11 of the top 20," Ferrer was quoted as saying by MARCA. "A final between Tsitsipas and Carlos Alcaraz would be attractive." News of a serious problem in his ribs has derailed his preparations for a 22nd Grand Slam title and 14th French Open crown this year.
"It is not easy when they tell you that you have an injury and more so at the beginning of the clay. He had been playing very well and with confidence. But if there is something Rafa has, it is that he has always come out of this type of situation with more strength.
Injuries are part of the sport," he said. Carlos is of the same age when Nadal started dominating tennis, and the way Carlos is playing his path seems to be very identical to Nadal’s. While speaking to the press after claiming the title by 7-5, 6-4 against Casper Ruud, he said, “Rafa is my idol.
I looked up to him when I was younger. Watching his matches, his big matches, he was pretty big. To learn from him when I was young and yeah, of course, to be around him now in the tour be able to play against him. Yeah, it’s pretty special”.