HOUSTON (Feb. 7, 2024) – Australians Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson, last year’s doubles champions at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship, are set to return March 30-April 7 to defend their title when the ATP Tour comes to River Oaks Country Club, the tournament announced today.
In the singles field they will join defending champion Frances Tiafoe, finalist Tomas Martin Etcheverry and Americans Ben Shelton, Tommy Paul and Chris Eubanks, who have committed to play the 2024 tournament.
“Doubles is so popular at our tournament and our fans enjoy seeing the same teams year over year, especially when they are coming after having won the title,” said Tournament Director Bronwyn Greer. “It’s great to start off our doubles commitments with the defending champions while also adding two more singles players, giving us now seven commitments who are in the Top 50 of the rankings. We’re thrilled with how our field is shaping up and getting more and more excited for tournament week.”
Purcell and Thompson, unseeded and playing their first final together last year at River Oaks, upset the second and third seeds enroute to the championship. They went on to reach the final in Atlanta later in the summer.
Purcell comes back to River Oaks in pursuit of a rare feat – a third straight US Clay doubles title, which was last done by the Bryan brothers 2009-11. Purcell claimed the 2022 title with countryman Matt Ebden before defending the title last year with Thompson.
In singles, Purcell rose to the world’s Top 40 last season bolstered by back-to-back quarterfinals last summer in Cincinnati and Winston-Salem. The 25-year-old Sydney native also enjoyed a very successful 2023 season on the Challenger Tour, reaching six finals and winning three titles. This year will be his third at River Oaks, where he reached the second round last year before falling to eventual finalist Etcheverry.
Purcell’s doubles success is not limited to River Oaks. He owns four titles, including at Wimbledon in 2022, and includes a pair of Australian Opens among his six runner-up finishes.
At age 29, Thompson, also a Sydney native, is enjoying a career resurgence. He is currently one spot away from his career high ranking of No. 43 achieved more than four years ago. In 2023 he notched two wins over Top 10 players – No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas and No. 9 Alexander Zverev – and reached the quarterfinals or better at four events including a grass court final.
Last month in front of a packed home country crowd in Brisbane, Thompson saved three match points to defeat Rafael Nadal to reach his first career hard court semifinal. Thompson’s only other doubles title came seven years ago – in Brisbane. This will be Thompson’s fifth year competing in singles at River Oaks, where he reached the quarterfinals in 2019.
At last year’s US Clay, Tiafoe became the highest ranked Houston champion at No. 15 and first top seed to win since No. 4 Andy Roddick in 2005. He bested eighth seed Etcheverry in a thrilling final, 7-6(1), 7-6(6) and followed it two months later by winning a grass court event to own titles on all three surfaces – hard, clay and grass. His two titles in 2023 helped propel him into the world’s Top 10 for the first time.
Etcheverry was contesting the second ATP Tour final of his career, having reached his first just a month earlier. Houston was a preview of his prowess on clay as he went on to reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the French Open.
Tiafoe, Paul and Shelton are all ranked among the world’s Top 20, Etcheverry is at No. 29 and Eubanks is No. 33. All have made the quarterfinals or better at a Grand Slam tournament. Tiafoe will be back for his sixth US Clay event, Paul his fourth and Etcheverry his second, while Shelton and Eubanks will make their main draw debuts in Houston.
The entry list for the 2024 tournament will be released in early March.
Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship at River Oaks Country Club
River Oaks Country Club is hosting a professional tennis tournament for the 88th time when the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship will be held March 30-April 7, 2024. River Oaks first hosted its own tournament, The River Oaks International, in 1931, and its roster of former champions includes Jack Kramer, Tony Trabert, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Ken Rosewall, Ivan Lendl, Guillermo Vilas and James Blake. Houston is the 21st city to host the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship. The tournament came to Houston in 2001, and has been hosted at River Oaks since 2008. Started in 1910 by the USTA, the 2024 tournament will be the 112th competition for the Clay Court Championship. American Frances Tiafoe was the 2023 singles champion while Australia’s Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson won the doubles title. The tournament beneficiary is the National Junior Tennis & Learning programs of the Houston Tennis Association. More information about the tournament can be found at www.mensclaycourt.com.