Despite the Sunshine Double being just finished yesterday, this week will be full of action in ATP competition. Traditionally, opening week of April is the time to start the clay season. The action is really packed, as it is divided between three ATP 250 tournaments, which are played in Estoril, Houston and Marrakech. Every of those tournaments hosts some top notch players, but the most stacked field will compete in Portugal.
The main draw of Millenium Estoril Open is headlined by Casper Ruud. The Norwegian will try to bounce back after miserable start of the season. Ruud was not able to win more than one match in any of his tournament appearances in 2023. Fortunately for the world's number 5, clay is definitely his favorite surface, as Ruud was celebrating 5 out of all his 6 ATP trophies there. On the other hand, Ruud will be playing this clay season under pressure, as he defends lots of points, including those earned in last year's Roland Garros final. The Norwegian can be tested in a tricky match against local favorite Joao Sousa. The Portuguese was awarded with a wild card and plays against Giulio Zeppieri for the place in 2nd round, where the winner of this match faces tournament's top seed.
Hubert Hurkacz joined the field in Portugal, adding the tournament in Estoril to his schedule after quite early 3rd round exit in Miami Open. The Pole, who lost his place in world's top 10, falling down to 12th place, is seeded with #2. Hurkacz can anticipate some difficult match for the start, as he can face Bernabe Zapata Miralles. The Spaniard, who was playing really well in South American clay tournaments in February, plays against the qualifier in first round. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Roberto Bautista Agut are two other top 4 seeds, who get byes in opening round. The bottom half contains some interesting names, including the match-up between Diego Schwartzman and Marco Cecchinato. The winner of it can face Fabio Fognini in 2nd round, if the Italian prevails against player from qualies.
Millenium Estoril Open main draw:
The field of US Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston contains ten American players being placed directly in the main draw. Interestingly, 6 out of those are seeded, while top 5 seeds of the tournament in Houston are home players. Frances Tiafoe headlines the field as a top seed. Tommy Paul is the #2 seed, the other byes are Brandon Nakashima and John Isner. The local favorites, who are usually prefering the hard court surfaces, will have a chance to test themselves against some real clay specialists from South America. Hugo Dellien vs Cristian Garin or Tomas Martin Etcheverry vs Francisco Cerundolo are one of those matches, which are worth to see in first round. Fernando Verdasco will play another interesting match of the opening round against the highest seed from overseas - Jason Kubler. The Spanish veteran received a wild card for this tournament.
Houston's main draw:
Three ATP tournaments of this week are being played on three different continents. After Portugal and United States, another destination of clay action is Morocco. Grand Prix Hassan II - the tournament in Marrakech, hosts some good players, who have already scored notable results in this season so far. Lorenzo Musetti is the top seed, and possibly one of the biggest favorites to clinch the trophy in Morocco. Daniel Evans is second seed, while two other opening round's bye receivers are the top Dutch players - Botic Van De Zandschulp and Tallon Griekspoor.
Marrakech's main draw: