Top Seeds Shelton, Cerundolo Make Houston Debut on Wednesday

After receiving first-round byes, top seeds Ben Shelton of the U.S. and Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina will headline Wednesday’s lineup at the Fayez Sarofim U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships.

Shelton Looks to Become Family’s Second River Oaks Champion

Shelton enters Houston as the No. 1 seed in an ATP event for the second time this season. Now inside the top 20 at No. 17 in this week’s ATP rankings, 21-year-old Shelton is making his River Oaks debut. 

A title this week at River Oaks for Shelton wouldn’t be the first rodeo for the Shelton family. His father and coach, Bryan, was a River Oaks Champion in 1992. The younger  Shelton, an NCAA singles champion at the University of Florida will face off against Belgian Zizou Bergs in the first evening match on Stadium Court at 6 p.m.

Cerundolo Shows Off Argentine Clay Court Prowess

Second seed Cerundolo, a former college tennis player University of South Carolina, will get the chance to show off his South American clay court expertise in front of Houston fans who attend Wednesday’s day session. 

At only age 25, the Argentine clay specialist holds the highest clay court win percentage (57%) among all 28 singles players in the Houston field with a 42-32 career record on the dirt. Cerundolo is also one of only four players competing at River Oaks who owns an ATP title on clay, at the Swedish Open in 2022. 

In the second match of Wednesday’s day session, he will take on Italian Luciano Darderi (not before 2 p.m.), a clay court champion himself who recently won his debut ATP title as a qualifier in Cordoba, Argentina. 

College Tennis Stars Square Off (or ACC College Tennis Battle)

River Oaks’ own version of March Madness continues to remain a consistent theme as eight former collegiate tennis stars representing eight colleges will compete on Wednesday. 

Headlining the college tennis action includes an all-ACC singles matchup between American Brandon Nakashima, a former ACC Freshman of the Year at University of Virginia, and Australian Rinky Hijikata, a former All-American at University of North Carolina. 

Expect a big-serving battle between Nakashima and Hijikata during the last singles match of Stadium Court’s day session. In Nakashima’s first round match, he won 23 of 29 service points. Hijikata, on the other hand, fired seven aces en route to upsetting American Chris Eubanks in the first round in a pair of tightly contested tie-breakers.

All-American Battle of the “Quad-Fathers”

On Tuesday night, No. 5 seed Marcos Giron dispatched former Top 10 player Denis Shapovalov 6-2, 7-5 to advance to the second round and set up a highly anticipated matchup with his fellow “Quad-Father”, JJ Wolf

At No. 51 in this week’s ATP rankings, Giron is the higher ranked of the two Americans who leads Wolf 1-0 in their career head-to-head. Giron and Wolf are scheduled for the second match during Wednesday’s evening session on Stadium Court. 

U.S. Olympic Hopefuls Make Houston Doubles Debut

With the 2024 Paris Olympics on the horizon, the top two American doubles players - both of whom have been ranked No. 1 and are currently inside the top 10 - will join forces at River Oaks to begin preparation for the Olympic Games that will be held on the red clay at Roland Garros later this summer. 

Although playing with other partners on a full-time basis, Austin Krajicek and Rajeev Ram have prior success to build on. In 2018, they won an ATP doubles title together in Moscow and in recent years have proven to be Team USA’s go-to doubles team for Davis Cup competition.

Ram, arguably the most accomplished player in the singles or doubles field with 31 career titles and six doubles majors, returns to Houston for the first time in 10 years. The 40-year-old now doubles specialist last played here in 2014 when he was an active singles player.

Krajicek, a former Texas A&M standout, posted a breakout 2023 season where he won his first doubles major title at Roland Garros with partner Ivan Dodig and reached No. 1 in the ATP rankings for the first time. The top American doubles team kicks off Stadium Court action at noon on Wednesday N. Sririam Balaji of India and Andre Begemann of Germany who was River Oaks runner up in 2018. 

Aussie Doubles Duo Continues Houston Title Defense

Wednesday’s lineup on Court 3 features a trio of compelling doubles matchups beginning with last year’s doubles champions, Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson

The Australian doubles pairing is one of the most in-form doubles teams on tour this year with a 13-2 record and titles in Dallas and Los Cabos. They will look to become the first team to win back-to-back titles at River Oaks since Bob and Mike Bryan in 2010-2011. Purcell, who is 9-0 in career doubles matches at River Oaks, is also aiming to  win his 3rd consecutive doubles title in Houston. They will take on the Indian pairing of Anirudh Chandrasekar and Vijay Sundar Prashanth. 

Other doubles matches of the day include last year’s singles runner-up, Tomas Martin Etcheverry, and partner Luciano Darderi taking on the Brazilian team of Fernando Romboli and Marcelo Zormann. Kicking off Court 3 will be the Indian team of Arjuan Kadhe and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan facing Marcus Daniell of New Zealand and Luis David Martinez of Venezuela.

How to Watch and Listen

Wednesday’s day session matches will begin at 12 p.m. on Stadium Court and 1 p.m. on Court 3. Two night session matches will be played on Stadium Court beginning at 6 p.m. 

Stadium Court singles matches will be broadcast from first to last ball all week on the ESPN App and Court 3 matches will be broadcasted on


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