The Fayez Sarofim & Co. US Men’s Clay Court Championship is the only ATP World Tour event held in the U.S that is contested on clay.
The first edition was played in 1910 in Ohama, but since then, the tournament has been contested in a number of various cities across the United States before settling into it’s current location at the River Oaks Country Club in Houston.
Reigning champion John Isner did not win a match in Houston in 2014. The defending champion suffered a surprise loss to German’s Dustin Brown crashing out of the tournament in the second round in 2014.
Brown scored the first top 10 win of his career when he upset Isner 6-4, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (4) in two hours and 19 minutes. Isner apologised following his post-match interview to a tournament official for a "pathetic performance.”
“I'm sorry you had to see that, I just didn't feel it tonight," the World No. 9 said.
Second seed Tommy Robredo also failed to win a match in the tournament, falling to Santiago Giraldo. Instead, it was fourth seed Fernando Verdasco who stepped up to clinch the title. The World No. 26 overcame compatriot Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 7-6 (4) in one hour and 52 minutes for the victory.
It was Verdasco’s first title since he won the Barcelona title in 2010.
"It’s been a long time since I’ve won a singles title," the World No. 26 said.
"It’s a very important day for me to win a tournament after a few years, and after the injury in my knee the last couple years, not feeling so well and not being able to play a few matches in a row feeling well. I’m so happy for everything in general," he continued.
Verdasco obtained the only break of the opening set on his way to claiming it 6-3. He had a chance to steal the early break again in the second set, however he failed to capitalise on all four opportunities, as Almagro stormed ahead to a 3-1 lead.
But the fourth seed refused to let the match be pushed into a decider and fought his way back to get the match back on serve in the seventh game. He then overcame five set points for Almagro, who was leading 5-4, to close out the victory in the tiebreaker in the second set.
"He played a really good match today, and he’s the winner," Almagro said after losing his fourth straight final. The World No. 20 also finished runner up in Houston last year, when he fell to John Isner.
"It was a battle today, and he was really concentrated on his serve. I had many chances and I didn’t [take them], and that’s the key of the match," Almagro continued.
Verdasco earned $85, 900 with the victory, and 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points. On the contrary, Almagro took home $45, 245 and 150 points. Both players are expected to return to Houston in 2015 for the 47th edition of the tournament.
The Fayez Sarofim & Co. US Men’s Clay Court Championship is scheduled to take place between 6 April – 14 April 2015.