Players to Watch

Jurgen Melzer

Austria's Jurgen Melzer reacts during play against compatriot Alexander Peya in their first round match of the Vienna ATP tennis tournament, 09 October 2007. (SAMUEL KUBANI/AFP/Getty Images)
The 27-year old Austrian turned pro in 1999 and has, for most of his career, concentrated on the doubles game, where he has met with relative success. He has only claimed one singles victory, on the clay surface of Bucharest in 2006 when he defeated Filippo Volandri in two sets 6-1, 7-5.

He has made finals at four events, one of them being the Us Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston in 2006 when he lost to Mardy Fish. Although he has largely failed to impress he has reached the third round of all four Grand Slam events and in 2007 he reached a career high ranking of 28. In 2008 he won 2 doubles titles, at the Ordina Open, and the S Tennis Masters Challenger in Graz.

Sebastien Grosjean

Frenchman, Sebastien Grosjean will probably be remembered for his dreadful finish at the 2001 Australian Open. He was two sets to love up and had a match point in the fourth set, yet inexplicably managed to lose the match to Arnaud Clement. The outcome was regarded as the biggest ‘choke’ in tennis history.

Although this 2009 US Men’s Clay Court Championships tennis player has never really set the world alight with his on-court prowess, he can boast a career best world ranking of 4, and in 2001 he became the first Frenchman since Cedric Pioline in 1993 to finish in the top 10.

He has managed one Masters Series win, in Paris, when he defeated Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 4 sets. His other two successes have come on the ATP circuit. At the 2005 US Men’s Clay Court Championships he reached the final, but was beaten by American, Andy Roddick.

His best results at the Grand Slams are:

  • Australian Open – Semi finals (2001)
  • French Open – Semi finals (2001)
  • Wimbledon – Semi finals (2003, 2004)
  • Us Open – 3rd Round (2000, 2005, 2007)

Mariano Zabaleta

The 30-year-old Argentine has a propensity to play his best tennis on clay surfaces. He made it to the third round of the French Open just two years into his professional career, and reached the final of the Hamburg Masters in 1999, only to fall to the wiles and skill of Marcelo Rios.

He further proved his skill and ability by taking on and defeating the likes of Sebastien Grosjean, Greg Rusedski, Tim Henman and Yevgeny Kafelnikov. At the 2005 Miami Masters he pushed world number one, Roger Federer to three sets.

At the 2007 US Men’s Clay Court Championships, he made it to the final after beating both finalists from 2006, Mardy Fish and Jurgen Melzer. Although Croat Ivo Karlovic put paid to his seventh singles title dream, he still managed to finish inside to the top 100 in the ATP rankings.

Which of the 2009 US Men’s Clay Court Championships tennis players will come out tops?