Past Champions: Gomez & Roddick

US Men’s Clay Court Champions

Since the glory days of Connors and Agassi, two men have consistently lifted the US Men’s Clay Court Championships. Andres Gomez was the king of the clay courts in the mid-1980s, and in the past seven years the event has belonged to America’s number one player, Andy Roddick.

Andres Gomez

Andres Gomez had a virtual strangle-hold over the US Men’s Clay Court Championships in the mid-1980s. Although Gomez will be remembered as a highly successful doubles player, his triumphs on clay helped him to a career high singles ranking of 4th in 1990. He made headlines in the same year when he took on the 19-year-old Andre Agassi at the French Open, and beat him in four sets to claim the singles Grand Slam title.

Of his 21 career singles titles, 16 of them were contested on clay. He was runner-up at 14 events and 50% of these tournaments were also on a clay surface. The statistics clearly show that his preferred surface was indeed clay – hence his dominance as a US Men’s Clay Court champion.

Gomez, from Ecuador, had a relatively successful career. In his time he took on and beat the likes of Aaron Krickstein, Yannick Noah and Marc Rossett. At the US Men’s Clay Court Championships he triumphed over Thierry Tulasne and Balazs Taroczy in 1986 and 1984 respectively. In 1985 he succumbed to the power of Ivan Lendl and in 1983 the wily Jimmy Arias took the title over Gomez in three sets.

Andy Roddick

SHANGHAI, CHINA - NOVEMBER 12: Andy Roddick of the United States celebrates match point against Nikolay Davydenko of Russia in match one of round robin play November 12, 2007 during the Tennis Masters Cup at Qi Zhong Stadium in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Hard-hitting American, Andy Roddick, has had remarkable success at the US Men’s Clay Court Championships. The versatile young man’s playing style is that of an offensive baseliner, which is ideally suited to clay. He is, of course, most famous for his blistering first serve, but has trouble getting around the court quickly, which again makes the clay court surfaces of River Oaks Country Club the ideal venue for him.

Roddick is currently the top-ranked American player on the pro circuit and is ranked number five on the ATP World Rankings, behind Davydenko, Dokovic, Nadal and Federer. He has however been criticised for never quite living up to public expectations. In his seven-year professional career he has only once lifted a Grand Slam title, that of the 2003 US Open Tennis Tournament.

Oddly enough he has never had much success on the clay surfaces of Roland Garros. His best performance to date was at the 2001 French Open, when he reached the third round. In the Masters Series, he has never won on clay and of his 23 career singles wins he has only won five of these titles on clay courts. Yet he has single-handedly dominated the US Men’s Clay Court Championships in the 21st Century.

His erratic performances have been cause for concern and many of his detractors believe that he is incapable of playing competitively at the highest level, and this indeed seems to be the case on clay.

Since 2001, Roddick has bagged the US Men’s Clay Court Championships on three occasions, beating Pete Sampras, Sebastien Grosjean and Hyung-Taik Lee. He has also been runner-up to Andre Agassi and Tommy Haas.

Roddick had to pull out of the 2007 US Men’s Clay Court Championships due to injury, he also pulled out of the 2008 tournament, but a quick look at his current form indicates that he can, indeed, claim the title for the fourth time in 2009, and add to his status of US Men’s Clay Court champion.