HOUSTON (March 7, 2023) – The player entry list for next month’s Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship includes five Americans who are ranked among the world’s top 50 players well as two former champions, the tournament announced today. The ATP Tour 250 event runs April 1-9 at River Oaks Country Club.
The Americans are led by a pair of 25-year-olds who are ranked in the Top 20 following recent Grand Slam semifinal showings in No. 16 Frances Tiafoe and No. 19 Tommy Paul.
Tiafoe, a quarterfinalist at River Oaks last year, later reached the U.S. Open semifinals with wins over No. 3 Rafael Nadal and No. 11 Andrey Rublev before falling to eventual champion Carlos Alcaraz in five sets. He followed that by reaching his second final of the year in Tokyo. Tiafoe, who will be making his fifth US Clay appearance, went 5-0 to help lead the U.S. to the United Cup title in Australia in January.
Tiafoe is joined by Paul, last week’s finalist in Acapulco where he defeated world No. 5 Taylor Fritz in the semifinals. Paul surged into the Top 20 following a run to the Australian Open semifinals in January. He will be making his third US Clay appearance and recorded the first ATP match win of his career at River Oaks in 2016.
Other Top 50 Americans who have entered US Clay include 2013 champion John Isner, 24-year-old JJ Wolf and 21-year-old Brandon Nakashima. Isner is also a two-time finalist at River Oaks in 2022 and 2012.
The tournament’s 2019 champion, Cristian Garin of Chile, returns to River Oaks for a third time. His 2019 US Clay title was the first of five career titles, all coming on clay courts. He made another deep run in Houston last year when he reached the semifinals.
A familiar name to clay court tennis is also in the field. Emilio Gomez, the son of Andres Gomez, is set for his River Oaks debut. Emilio has won four career Challenger titles and was a two-time NCAA team champion while attending the University of Southern California. His father, Andres, was the 1990 French Open champion who won two titles while reaching four consecutive US Clay finals from 1983-86 when the event was held in Indianapolis.
Here is an overview of the 2023 field:
- 9 countries represented, led by 7 Americans
- 5 Americans ranked in the Top 50 (Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul, John Isner, JJ Wolf and Brandon Nakashima)
- Two former US Men’s Clay champions: (Cristian Garin, 2019; John Isner, 2013)
- 1 former US Men’s Clay finalist: (John Isner, 2022, 2012)
- 9 players making their tournament main draw debut: (Facundo Bagnis, Tomas Martin Etcheverry, Emilio Gomez, Filip Krajinovic, Jason Kubler, Adrian Mannarino, Brandon Nakashima, Yibing Wu, Zhizhen Zhang)
- 1 player who won an ATP Tour title in 2023 (Yibing Wu, Dallas)
- 3 players who have reached an ATP Tour final in 2023: (Tomas Martin Etcheverry, Santiago; John Isner, Dallas; Tommy Paul, Acapulco)
- 1 player who won an ATP Tour title in 2022: (Brandon Nakashima, San Diego and Next Gen ATP Finals)
- 2 players who won ATP Challenger titles this season: (Max Purcell  Chennai, Bengaluru, Pune; Jordan Thompson, Rome, Ga.)
- 1 player who has qualified for the year-end ATP Finals (John Isner – 2018)
- 1 NCAA singles champion (Marcos Giron – 2014, UCLA)
- 5 former college players (Marcos Giron, UCLA; Emilio Gomez, USC; John Isner, Georgia; Brandon Nakashima, Virginia; JJ Wolf, Ohio State)
- 7 players age 25 and under (Youngest – Brandon Nakashima, 21)
- 6 players age 30 and over (Oldest – John Isner, 37)
Here’s a look at the initial entrants:
(Rank) Name, Age, Country – Mini-Bio
(16) Frances Tiafoe, 25, USA – 2022 US Open SF with win over Nadal; 2023 led US to United Cup team title
(19) Tommy Paul, 25, USA – 2023 Australian Open SF, Acapulco F; third US Clay appearance; won first ATP match at River Oaks in 2016
(39) John Isner, 37, USA – 2023 Dallas F; 2022, 2012 Men’s Clay F, 2013 champion; leads active player with 18 US Clay wins; all-time ATP ace leader
(44) JJ Wolf, 24, USA – 2023 Australian Open 4r, Dallas SF; 1st ATP final at 2022 Florence; Ohio State All-American
(48) Brandon Nakashima, 21, USA – 2022: first ATP Tour title in hometown San Diego, Next Gen ATP Finals winner
(61) Tomas Martin Etcheverry, 23, Argentina – 2023 Santiago F; Three career Challenge titles, all on clay
(67) Yibing Wu, 23, China – Won last month’s Dallas title, becoming first Chinese man to win an ATP Tour title
(68) Adrian Mannarino, 34, France – Has won two ATP titles; Appeared in nine other finals
(73) Marcos Giron, 29, USA – 2022: 1st final age 29 in San Diego, cracked Top 50; 2014 NCAA singles champ at UCLA
(74) Filip Krajinovic, 31, Serbia – Five-time ATP finalist; owns 10 career Challenger titles
(75) Jason Kubler 29, Australia – 2023 Australian Open doubles champion with Rinky Hijikata
(87) Jordan Thompson, 28, Australia – 2020 US Open 4r; 2019 s-Hertogenbosch F, Houston QF;
(89) Daniel Elahi Galan, 26, Colombia – Reached 2019 US clay semifinals as qualifier; won two clay Challengers in 2022
(90) Denis Kudla, 30, USA – Winner of eight career Challenger titles; making sixth US Clay appearance
(92) Emilio Gomez, 31, Ecuador – Winner of four Challengers; two-time NCAA team champion; son of 1990 French Open champion Andres Gomez
(93) Zhizhen Zhang, 26, China – Became first Chinese man to crack the Top 100 in October 2022; winner of three Challenger titles
(95) Max Purcell, 24, Australia – On a 15-match winning streak after three straight ATP Challenger titles in India
(96) Facundo Bagnis, 33, Argentina – Winner of 16 career Challenger titles, all on clay
(97) Cristian Garin, 26, Chile – 2019 US Men’s Clay champion, 2022 def. second seed Taylor Fritz to reach SF
Reilly Opelka was intending to defend his title however he is unable to return to River Oaks due to ongoing injuries that have kept him out since August.
The tournament will award three wild cards while four more players will be added to the field following a two-round qualifying tournament that will be held at River Oaks April 1-2.