Steve Johnson shrugged off numerous missed opportunities to beat first-time ATP Tour finalist Tennys Sandgren 7-6 (2), 2-6, 6-4 on Sunday to become the first player to successfully defend the U.S. Men's Clay Court title in 16 years. This was their first meeting and Steve had to work hard to emerge as a victor, winning just one point more than his rival and suffering three breaks of serve from five opportunities he gave to Sandgren.
Using the triumph, globe number fifty one Johnson procured his third ATP Tour name and grew to become the first repeat victor of this USA adult men's claycourt Championship as Andy Roddick in 2001-2002. Johnson will marry longtime girlfriend Kendall Bateman on Saturday night in California.
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The 28-year-old Johnson, from Palos Verdes, California, won only two of the 14 break points he had against Sandgren's serve, but the second in the penultimate game of the almost 2 1/2-hour match put him in position to serve for the match, his third three-setter in a row.
Sandgren broke Karlovic to level at 4-4 in the opening set, denied the Croatian on a break chance in the ninth game and then dominated the tie-breaker, scoring five of the last six points. "I didn't play the way I would have liked to play and then he started to play good at the end of the second set". A final is not like any other match, but you try to trick yourself into thinking it is. U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship title by defeating five consecutive American opponents since Jaime Yzaga of Peru in 1991 when the tournament was held in Charlotte.
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"Now it's all wedding stuff", he said.
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