Americans Jack Sock, Steve Johnson, and first-timer Ernesto Escobedo are into the semifinals of the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship being held at River Oaks Country Club, Houston.
#NextGenATP sensation 20-year-old Escobedo struck the biggest win of career Friday, knocking out No.2 seed and 2013 winner fellow American John Isner 7-6(6) 6-7 (6) 7-6(5) in a three-hour three set gruesome victory to earn his first ATP World Tour semifinal. Doing so the wild card entry has become the youngest semifinalist at the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship since Andy Roddick, in 2003.
“What just happened out there?” were the words coming out from Escobedo after winning the game.
He said, “I’m speechless right now. I can’t believe it at all. It was a very long game, three tie-breaks. I told myself it’s going to happen, just keep on pushing[ For that inch], stay mentally strong”.
Escobedo will face Thomaz Bellucci in the semifinal Saturday. Bellucci booked his semifinal berth after knocking off American Sam Querrey 6-4 3-6 6-3. The Brazilian obviously has an upper hand for the clash due to his experience and having won all four of his titles of his career in clay.
Elsewhere, an all-American showdown has been set on Center Court during the second semifinal of the day, as No.1 seed, Jack Sock tussles with No.4 Steve Johnson.
Sock marked his 20th match win of the year Friday night over two-time semifinalist Feliciano Lopez, exchanging nine breaks in the 133 minute long 7-6(6) 1-6 6-4 match.
Sock not only booked his third straight semifinals at River Oaks, he has now surpassed Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the ‘most match wins’ in 2017.
On the other, Johnson ousted 2014 champion Fernando Verdasco 6-2 6-4 to grab his first semifinal at River Oaks in five outings. Impressively, the American entered the match with a 0-4 head-to-head record against the Spaniard but that didn’t slow down his fire.
Sock leads the head-to-head 4-1 against Johnson and has already defeated him twice this year.
Semifinal Saturday begins at 1 pm on Center Court.