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Final Briefing - Casablanca, Houston

• The championship of the US Men’s Clay Court Championships at the River Oaks Country Club on Sunday features No. 4 seed and wild card entry Juan Monaco of Argentina against American No. 2 seed John Isner . This marks the fifth straight year an American is appearing in the final in Houston. Ryan Sweeting won his first ATP World Tour title here last year. Overall, it’s the 11th time in the past 12 years (except 2007) at least one American is in the final of the US Clay Courts. Monaco is appearing in his first career final on U.S. soil and the 13th of his career (4-8). Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela won the title here two years ago. Here is a look at Americans in Houston finals the past four years:

2011 – Ryan Sweeting def. Kei Nishikori
2010 – Sam Querrey lost to Juan Ignacio Chela
2009 – Wayne Odesnik lost to Lleyton Hewitt
2008 – James Blake lost to Marcel Granollers

• Isner, who will become the top American on the ATP World Tour on Monday (at No. 9), has won the previous two meetings against Monaco (both on hard courts). The 26-year-old Tampa resident has not been broken in the tournament, holding serve all 44 games and saving 15 break points. He is 7-0 on clay this season and he’s been broken twice in seven matches. If Isner wins his first clay court title he will move to No. 8 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings.

 Winner: $79,880 and 250 South African Airways ATP Ranking points
 Runner-up: $42,070 and 150 South African Airways ATP Ranking points

 Monaco: Appearing in his 13th career ATP World Tour final……..He is 4-8 in finals (1-0 this year) 
 Isner: Appearing in his 10th career ATP World Tour final…… He is 3-6 in finals (0-1 this year)

TOP AMERICANS – Isner is the 12th different player to hold the distinction as top American in the history of the ATP World Tour Rankings (since Aug. 23, 1973):
Year First Became
Top American Career-High ATP Ranking
John Isner 2012 No. 9 (No. 8 if wins title)
Mardy Fish 2011 No. 7
James Blake  2006 No. 4
Andy Roddick 2003 No. 1
Pete Sampras 1992 No. 1
Jim Courier 1991 No. 1
Brad Gilbert  1990 No. 4 
Michael Chang 1989 No .2
Andre Agassi 1988 No. 1
John McEnroe 1980 No. 1
Jimmy Connors 1973 No. 1
Stan Smith 1973 No. 3


(4-WC) Juan Monaco (ARG) vs (2) John Isner (USA) Isner Leads 2-0
10 Auckland (New Zealand) Hard R16 John Isner 5-7 6-4 6-3
12 ATP Masters 1000 Indian Wells Hard R32 John Isner 7-5 7-5

Monaco FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
W: Vina del Mar (d Berlocq); SF: ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami (l Djokovic)
YTD W-L: 15-5 (10-2 on clay)
YTD Titles: 1/Career Titles: 4
Date of Birth: March 29, 1984
South African Airways ATP Ranking: 16

• Monaco, 28, the No. 2 Argentine (behind No. 11 del Potro), is appearing in his second final of the season…He captured his fourth career ATP World Tour title in Vina del Mar (d. countryman Berlocq) on Feb. 5…It was his first ATP title since Kitzbuehel in summer of 2007…In his last tournament at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami, he reached the semi-finals with wins over Roddick and Fish (l. to eventual champion Djokovic)
• Has a 4-8 career record in ATP World Tour finals, all but one on clay (’11 Valencia-H) and he’s appearing in his first final on U.S. soil
• The Tandil native is playing in Houston for the first time in five years when he reached the quarters here (l. to Blake in third set TB)…Has held serve 30 of 35 games (86%), saving seven of 12 break pts.
Has broken opponents 12 times in 36 games (33%), converting 12 of 26 break points
• Has a 15-5 match record on the season (10-2 on clay)…He is fourth on the ATP World Tour this season in clay court wins (10),behind Nicolas Almagro (14), David Ferrer and Carlos Berlocq (12 each)
• Played in first round Davis Cup tie vs. Germany and defeated Philipp Petzschner in straight sets in opening rubber and last Sunday defeated Croatia’s Antonio Veic 61 61 in dead rubber as Argentina advanced to the semi-finals in September (vs. Czech Republic)

Isner FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
F: ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indian Wells (l Federer); SF: Delray Beach (l Anderson); QF: Memphis (l Melzer)
YTD W-L: 20-6 (7-0 on clay)
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 3
Date of Birth: April 26, 1985
South African Airways ATP Ranking: 10

• Isner , 26, is appearing in his second career ATP World Tour clay court final (’10 Belgrade) and 10th overall final in his career (3-6)...This is his fifth straight trip to River Oaks (6-4 mark)…Reached quarters in 2009 (l. to Odesnik) and last year (l. to Karlovic), both in third set tie-breaks…Also lost in third set TB to Malisse two years ago…Has a 7-8 career TB record here
• On Thursday opened with 67(3) 64 62 win over qualifier Horacio Zeballos, firing 16 aces, and followed with 76(1) 76(4) victory over defending champ Ryan Sweeting and 67(5) 76(4) 63 over No. 3 seed Feliciano Lopez…Has held all 44 service games, saving 15 break points and leads tourney with 40 aces…Also No. 2 in second serve pts. won (60%) and No. 4 in first serve pts. won (79%)
• Last weekend he lifted the U.S. into the Davis Cup semi-finals (vs. Spain) with wins over Frenchmen No. 13 Gilles Simon and No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the Monte-Carlo Country Club…In February, beat No. 3 Roger Federer in first round tie in Switzerland
• Will become top American on Monday for first time (came in 15 pts. behind No. 9 Fish) and is 20-6 on the season (7-0 on clay) and last year didn’t win his 20th match until Washington in August…If wins title, will move to No. 8 and past Janko Tipsarevic…Also went 4-7 on clay last season…Leads ATP World Tour with most tie-breaks won this year (15-5)
• Last month advanced to his first ATP Masters 1000 final in Indian Wells, defeating World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals before losing to Federer…Afterwards, broke into the Top 10 for the first time on Mar. 19...Has a 3-1 mark vs. Top 10 opponents and last two years was 2-12 combined
• Came in this week No. 2 on the year in aces with 305 (behind Raonic 324) but has passed Canadian and now has 345, No. 6 in service games won (88%) and No. 8 in second serve points won (55%)

• For the third time this season there is going to be an all-Spanish final on the ATP World Tour, as Albert Ramos and Pablo Andujar square off for the Grand Prix Hassan II title in Casablanca.

• The first two all-Spanish finals this year came on clay as well, in Buenos Aires (David Ferrer beat Almagro) and Acapulco (Ferrer beat Fernando Verdasco). This is the second all-Spanish final at this tournament (Alberto Martin beat Fernando Vicente for the title here in 1999).

• Ramos, the No. 7 seed in Casablanca, hasn’t lost a set this week and is now in his very first ATP World Tour final, one win away from becoming the first first-time ATP World Tour champion of the year. Before this week, the 24-year-old Spaniard’s best result at this level was the semi-finals in Sao Paulo earlier this year (where he fell to another Spanish player, Nicolas Almagro).

• Andujar, the No. 3 seed and defending champion, has had a taxing last few days, having to play both his second round and quarter-final matches on Friday and his semi-final on Saturday. But he has won them all, and the 26-year-old Spaniard is now in his fifth ATP World Tour final, all five them coming on clay. He is 1-3 in his previous four finals, his only previous title coming right here a year ago (with his three wins so far this year, he is now a perfect 8-0 lifetime at this event).

• Andujar has beaten Ramos in straight sets in both of their previous meetings, a 62 61 rout on the clay of Kitzbuehel last year but a much closer 76(5) 64 victory in the early rounds of Indian Wells earlier this year (Andujar won just five more points than Ramos in the match, 78 to 73).

 Winner: € 71,900 and 250 South African Airways ATP Ranking points
 Runner-up: € 37,860 and 150 South African Airways ATP Ranking points

   Ramos Appearing in his 1st career ATP World Tour final
   Andujar: Appearing in his 5th career ATP World Tour final……..He is 1-3 lifetime in finals

(7) Albert Ramos (ESP #52)
1st Rd: d. Pere Riba (ESP #89) 62 63 (1:13)
2nd Rd: d. Victor Hanescu (ROU #105) 62 64 (1:22)
QF: d. Jeremy Chardy (FRA #64) 63 64 (1:38)
SF: d. Igor Andreev (RUS #100) 63 76(7) (1:52)

(3) Pablo Andujar (ESP #58)
1st Rd: bye
2nd Rd: d. Potito Starace (ITA #83) 63 60 (1:09)
QF: d. (Q) Sergio Gutierrez-Ferrol (ESP #544) 64 16 63 (1:33)
SF: d. Flavio Cipolla (ITA #85) 63 75 (1:54)


Court Central

(7) Albert Ramos (ESP) vs (3) Pablo Andujar (ESP) Andujar Leads 2-0
11 Kitzbühel (Austria) Clay R16 Pablo Andujar 6-2 6-1
12 ATP Masters 1000 Indian Wells  Hard R32 Pablo Andujar 7-6(5) 6-4
Other meetings:
05 Spain F31 (Vilafranca) Clay R16 Pablo Andujar 6-2 3-6 6-0
06 Spain F14 (Lleida) Clay R16 Pablo Andujar 6-4 6-4
08 Valencia Q (Spain) Clay -- Pablo Andujar 6-0 6-2
09 Seville CH (Spain) Clay R32 Albert Ramos 6-4 7-6(3)
10 Geneva CH (Switzerland) Clay QF Pablo Andujar 6-2 3-6 7-6(8)

Ramos FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
SF: Sao Paulo (l Almagro); QF: Doha (l Tsonga)
YTD W-L: 14-9 (9-3 on clay)
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 0
Date of Birth: January 17, 1988
South African Airways ATP Ranking: 52

• Ramos, 24, is making his first appearance at this event (4-0 so far this week - has won all four rounds in straight sets)…He is trying to become the first first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this year
• The Spaniard is playing in his first career ATP World Tour final (his previous best was the semi-finals in February in Sao Paulo - l. to Almagro)
• Has held 34 of 38 service games (89%) this week, saving 13 of 17 break points (76%) and has won 14 of 37 return games (38%)
• Comes in with a 14-9 match record on the season (9-3 on clay) and has already surpassed his match wins total from last year (13-16)…Went 11-10 on clay last year
• Currently at career-high No. 52 (set this week - week of April 9, 2012)

Andujar FastFacts:
2012 Highlights:
QF: Acapulco (l Ferrer)
YTD W-L: 9-8 (5-3 on clay)
YTD Titles: 0
Career Titles: 1
Date of Birth: January 23, 1986
South African Airways ATP Ranking: 58

• Andujar, 26, is making his second appearance at this event at this event (8-0 record); winning the title in his debut last year (d. Starace in final)
• Has held serve 23 of 31 service games (.74%) and leads tournament in return games won (15 of 31, 48%)
• The Spaniard is playing in his fifth career ATP World Tour final (1-3 mark) and his lone title came here last year)…His last final came in Bucharest last September (l. to F. Mayer)
• He reached a career-high No. 38 on March 19

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