Johnson seeks ATP US Clay crown

Annette Crawford
April 16, 2018

Defending champion Steve Johnson outlasted fellow American Taylor Fritz 7-5 6-7 (4/7), 6-2 on Saturday to reach the ATP US Clay Court Championships final.

Johnson will play Tennys Sandgren, another American who advanced to his first ATP World Tour final by neutralizing Ivo Karlovic's huge serve in a 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4) victory.

Sandgren fended off four break points before failing to consolidate a break of his own as the opening set went to a tie-break that his opponent won comfortably.

With the win, world No.51 Johnson secured his third ATP Tour title and became the first repeat victor of the US Men's Clay Court Championship since Andy Roddick in 2002.

Tennys Sandgren looks up and gets ready for the ball while playing against Steve Johnson both of United States during the first set of the U.S. Men's Clay Court tennis Championship final at River Oaks Country Club on Sunday
Johnson seeks ATP US Clay crown

Serving for the match, Johnson erased a break point, then broke on his first match point. Johnson couldn't keep his focus after wasting so many chances and Tennys broke him in games six and eight, closing the set with his second break at 5-2 and a forehand error from Johnson, sending the match into a decider. In the third set I was just hanging on at the beginning and trying to fight off his momentum.

It's only the tournament's second all-American final since Andre Agassi prevented Roddick from claiming a third in a row in 2003.

Serving for the set, Tennys lost his serve after a poor volley at the net and they had to decide the victor in the tie break, with the momentum on Johnson's side.

Johnson, whose ATP titles came in 2016 at Nottingham and Houston previous year, broke Fritz to claim the first set in 50 minutes, but dropped four of the last five points in the tie-breaker to force a third set, which Johnson dominated to book his first match against Sandgren.

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