The first wild cards for the 2012 US Men’s Clay Court Championship have been awarded to Spain’s Feliciano Lopez, the 15th ranked player on the ATP World Tour, and Argentina’s Juan Monaco, who is No. 21.
Lopez and Monaco join a pair of Top 10 Americans, Mardy Fish and John Isner, in committing to the event that will be held April 9-15 at River Oaks Country Club.
Lopez, who has been ranked in the Top 50 in eight of the past nine seasons, will be making his tournament debut in Houston. He has been a mainstay of Spain’s Davis Cup success in recent years, playing in 20 ties and playing a role on four championship teams. The three-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist owns two ATP World Tour titles in seven career finals.
Monaco ranks ninth among active players for career clay court wins with a 157-91 record on the surface. He has claimed four titles in 11 finals on clay, including earlier this year in Vina del Mar. In 2011, he helped Argentina to the Davis Cup final against Spain. Monaco was the 2006 runner-up of the River Oaks International, and went 2-2 at the US Men’s Clay Court Championship at Westside, reaching the quarterfinals in 2007.
“We’re thrilled to have the chance to grant Feliciano and Juan wild cards,” tournament director Van Barry said. “To have these Top 25 international stars join our field that’s anchored by a couple of Top 10 Americans with Mardy and John is a very exciting way to gear up for the tournament which begins in less than three weeks.”
Fish, the 2006 US Men’s Clay Court Champion, is ranked No. 8, while Isner has reached a career high No. 10 on Monday after reaching the final this past week at Indian Wells by beating No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semifinals.
Fish is one of four former champions in the field, including Ryan Sweeting (2011), Marcel Granollers (2008) and Ivo Karlovic (2007). Three former finalists are also in the field, and they are all Americans: Sam Querrey (2010), Wayne Odesnik (2009) and James Blake (2008).
The addition of Lopez and Monaco brings the tournament field to 23 players thus far. One more wild card will be awarded and four other players will join the field through the qualifying tournament that begins April 7.
The doubles field will be announced just before the tournament, but four-time winners of the US Men’s Clay Court Championship Bob and Mike Bryan have committed to return and defend their title once again.
ONLY LIMITED TICKETS REMAIN for the 2012 US Men’s Clay Court Championship. The popular Champs Pass that includes all sessions from Friday-Sunday has sold out, and only standing room only tickets remain for Saturday’s singles semifinals and doubles final. Information on tickets can be found at www.mensclaycourt.com or by calling 713-874-629.
Once again, the US Men’s Clay Court Championship will provide the Texas Children’s Ticket Turnback program. Any fans holding tickets for a session that they cannot use are invited to return those tickets to the box office where they will be sold for face value and the entire resale price will be donated to Texas Children’s Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Institute.