Qualifier Elahi Galan Knocks Out Houston Defending Champion Johnson

Daniel Elahi Galan (photo: Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship)

HOUSTON, April 12, 2019

Eight countries (Australia, Colombia, Chile, Norway, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland and the United States) are represented in the quarterfinals of the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship. That is the first time eight different nations are in the final eight in Houston since 1984.

Daniel Elahi Galan upset top seed and two-time defending champion Steve Johnson on Thursday evening. The 22-year-old qualifier from Colombia broke the US-American’s serve three times to secure a 6-3, 6-3 victory in one hour and 13 minutes.

“He was clearly the favourite and I was a little nervous at the beginning, but I knew what I had to do,” Galan was quoted on the ATP Tour website. “I wasn’t winning so many matches lately, so this week is a relief for me. I’m playing better and better every day.”

Galan and Henri Laaksonen from Switzerland are the first qualifiers to reach the US Clay quarterfinals since Robby Ginepri did so in 2013. They are bidding to be first qualifiers to reach the semifinals since Houston resident Michael Russell in 2012. Galan will take on No. 7 seed Jordan Thompson from Australia. Laaksonen will face Christian Garin of Chile, who was the 2013 French Open junior champion, defeating Alexander Zverev in the final.

Janko Tipsarevic missed all of 2018 while undergoing a pair of hamstring operations. This is just his third tournament since returning to action, and he has reached his first quarterfinal since October 2016 in Shenzhen. Tipsarevic knocked out No. 3 seed Cameron Norrie from Great Britain, winning 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 13 minutes.

At No. 372 in the world, the 34-year-old from Serbia is the lowest ranked quarterfinalist in the tournament’s recorded history (since 1984). He breaks the record set in 2000 when No. 352 Fernando Gonzalez claimed the title and will next challence Sam Querrey. 

The No. 8 seed from the United States, a two-time finalist at River Oaks, has reached the US Clay quarterfinals for the sixth time with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Spanish veteran Guillermo Garcia-López.

In the remaining match-up on Friday, 20-year-old Casper Ruud of Norway, son of Christian Ruud, the 1996 River Oaks International champion, will play Marcel Granollers from Spain. Christian is here this week coaching his son. Granollers is the only past champion remaining in the field. He claimed the title in 2008, the first year US Clay was held at River Oaks.