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Steve Johnson edges Tennys Sandgren to defend the title — ATP Houston

Steve Johnson edges Tennys Sandgren to defend the title — ATP Houston”

Defending champion Steve Johnson wore down Taylor Fritz 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-2 on Saturday, breaking his 20-year-old countryman twice in the third set after letting two match points slip away in the second in the U.S. Men's Clay Court semifinals.

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.

Johnson became the first American to go back-to-back in Houston since Andy Roddick in 2001-02. Johnson took this set 7-6. "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". 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.

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. In the other, Jack Sock beat Sam Querrey in 2015.

"Now it's all wedding stuff", he said.

Johnson, whose ATP titles came in 2016 at Nottingham and Houston a year ago, 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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