American Steve Johnson successfully defended his title at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston Sunday, defeating fellow American Tennys Sandgren, 7-6, 2-6, 6-4, in the final. The match was the first all-American final at the U.S. Clay Courts since 2015, when Jack Sock beat Sam Querrey for the championship.
The win was an emotional one for the 28-year-old American, whose father, Steve Johnson Sr., unexpectedly passed away 11 months ago. Johnson’s win at Houston last year was the last match his dad saw him play.
Here’s more on the American star, who has now won nine straight matches in Houston.
The Steve Johnson File
Birthplace: Orange, Calif.
Current Rank: 52
Career-High Rank: 21 (July 2016)
Best US Open Finish: Third Round (2012)
- Johnson is the first player to repeat as champion in Houston since Andy Roddick won titles at the tournament in 2001 and 2002. To win this year’s championship, Johnson had to get past five of his countrymen – Ernesto Escobedo, Frances Tiafoe, John Isner, Taylor Fritz and Sandgren.
- The 28-year-old picked up his third career ATP title with his win at the Clay Courts. In addition to the Houston titles in 2017 and 2018, he also won the Nottingham crown in 2016.
- The California native has finished four straight seasons in the Top 50 (2014-17), with 2016 being a standout year for him. That year, he advanced to his first ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinal at Cincinnati, reached the fourth round at Wimbledon, captured his first career title at Nottingman and won the men's doubles bronze medal (with Jack Sock) and reached the singles quarterfinals at the Rio Olympics.
- Johnson has represented the United States in Davis Cup play in 2015, 2017 and 2018. Earlier this year, he teamed with Ryan Harrison in doubles to clinch the U.S. team's 3-1 win over Serbia in the first round.
- Johnson will be heading home to California to marry his longtime girlfriend, Kendall Bateman, this Saturday. The two both attended the University of Southern California, where Johnson was a star on the men’s tennis team, winning four NCAA team titles (2009-12) and back-to-back singles titles (2011-12), and Bateman was a two-time All-American on the Trojans’ women’s volleyball team.
They Said It!
“He was just so excited. He's somebody that I'd still like to call today. He'd tell me he was proud of me and be ready for the wedding next weekend.” – Johnson told ATPWorldTour.com after the final, when remembering the last telephone conversation he had with his father after he won the Houston title last year.