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By Chris Oddo | Sunday April 15, 2018

 
Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson became the first player to successfully defend the Houston title since 2002 with a three-set win over Tennys Sandgren on Sunday.

Photo Source: AP

Steve Johnson will take a short break from the ATP Tour to get married next weekend, with a title in tow. The American notched an emotional victory on Sunday, taking down Tennys Sandgren, 7-6(2), 2-6, 6-4, to complete a successful title defense at the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston.

More: Mertens Claims Second Title of 2018 at Lugano

Johnson won this title last year and as fate would have it the triumph would be the last title he won while his father, Steve Johnson Sr., was still alive. A year later Johnson is still affected by the sudden passing of his beloved father, and he wore the emotions like a red badge of courage after he clinched title and was on the verge of tears as he shook hands with Sandgren and during the trophy ceremony where he was clearly still gripped by the heaviness of the moment.


Sandgren had his hands full of Johnson as they embraced after the match, and Johnson had his hands full of Sandgren as the two battled to 4-4 in the final set with the match hanging in the balance.

It would be Johnson who came up with the goods on this day, he broke for 5-4 in the decider and clinched the title in two hours and 22 minutes to become Houston’s first repeat champion since Andy Roddick in 2002.


Johnson claims his third title with his victory and improves his record in 2018 to 11-8.

Sandgren was playing in his first ATP final. He played this event as a qualifier with an ATP ranking of 156. 12 months later he is slated to break into the Top 50 for the first time next week.

Max Mirnyi and Philipp Oswald took the doubles title on Saturday, 6-7(2), 6-4, 11-9, over Andre Begemann and Antonio Sancic. Mirnyi and Oswald improved to 2-1 in doubles finals this season against the first-time pairing.

 

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