ATP Houston 2013 Draw Preview and Analysis

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For full draw, please click here: ATP Houston 2013 Draw

After a weekend of Davis Cup action, it’s a return to the clay for the men with the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston one of two ATP 250 events this week. As expected, the Americans always go well here with a finalist in the last five years although surprisingly only one went on to win the event – Ryan Sweeting with a shock victory over Kei Nishikori. Third seed Juan Monaco won the event last year and will be hoping to find some form.

Top seed Nicolas Almagro has never played at Houston before and won’t have a chance to ease himself into the tournament with a potentially tricky round two on the cards. A tie with James Blake promises some big hitting, but only if Blake can see off Gael Monfils. The Frenchman is still trying to find form after his long injury lay-off, not having much lucky during the European indoor hard court swing. An Italian looks likely to make the quarter finals with Flavio Cipolla and Paolo Lorenzi both facing qualifiers and Almagro will be fairly confident facing either, considering he is unbeaten in five attempts against these two players.

Fourth seed 2010 finalist Sam Querrey will be boosted by what looks to be a decisive Davis Cup win against Viktor Troicki and begins against either Rhyne Williams or Guido Pella. Pella won two clay challengers last year and should likely see off Williams, whose success has mainly been on hard courts. Somdev Devvarman will be happy for his draw, with the Indian playing Rubin Ramirez-Hidalgo. At 36, Ramirez-Hidalgo is one of the oldest players on the tour and may well be looking to wind down his career shortly. The Spaniard is yet to win in five attempts this year. His fellow countryman Fernando Verdasco is much more likely to see success in this tournament – Verdasco begins against wildcard Steve Johnson in what will be the American’s first match on the dirt at tour level.

Eighth seed Michael Russell faces a qualifier with either Martin Alund or Lleyton Hewitt waiting in the wings. Alund is most well known for taking a set off Nadal this year but has failed to since push on while Hewitt last played on clay in the Davis Cup last year. Losing in straight sets to Cedrik Marcel Stebe is not a result that will inspire confidence in the Australian. Defending champion Juan Monaco is yet to win on the tour this year with his only victories coming in Davis Cup action. Either Tim Smyczek or Josselin Ouanna should provide him with that first win. Smyczek has very little clay experience at the highest level while Ouanna has been stuck slogging away at Challenger level although the Frenchman once famously defeated Marat Safin at Roland Garros in 2009.

The final part of the draw sees an all-American affair with John Isner playing Ryan Harrison. A finalist in 2012, Isner leads the head to head 2-1 but Harrison defeated Isner in straight sets in Sydney earlier this year. Neither player is currently in great form so it will be interesting to see if the winner can push on. Jack Sock is the recipient of yet another wildcard and gets a nice draw against a qualifier for the opportunity to play the winner of the Isner-Harrison match. The revitalised Tommy Haas rounds off the draw as second seed. The German has been in excellent form recently, making the semi final of Miami and pushing the Spaniard Ferrer to three sets as well as his incredible victory over world no.1 Djokovic. Haas begins against the winner of Richard Berankis and Jesse Levine. Berankis leads the head to head 2-0 but they have not played since 2010.

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