HOUSTON (AP) — 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.
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 nearly 2 1/2-hour match put him in position to serve for the match, his third three-setter in a row.
Johnson then fended off a break point himself and secured the title, only his third at the ATP level, when Sandgren lofted a backhand return a couple feet long.
No player had repeated in the only men's clay-court tournament in the U.S. since Andy Roddick won back-to-back at a different venue in 2001-02. It was the second all-American final since Andre Agassi prevented Roddick from taking his third in a row in 2003, after Jack Sock's victory over Sam Querrey in 2015.
Johnson will marry longtime girlfriend Kendall Bateman on Saturday night in California.