(Reuters) - Sixth seed Steve Johnson beat Tennys Sandgren 7-6(2) 2-6 6-4 to successfully defend his title in an all-American final at the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston on Sunday.
Johnson broke eighth-seeded Sandgren in the ninth game of the third set and then held serve to close out the match at the River Oaks Country Club in two hours 22 minutes.
With the win, world number 51 Johnson secured his third ATP Tour title and became the first repeat winner of the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship since Andy Roddick in 2001-2002.
Sandgren, who was appearing in the first ATP singles final of his career, was ready for battle as the Americans each traded a break in a back-and-forth opening set that Johnson ultimately claimed in a tiebreak.
Johnson wobbled at times during the second set as world number 56 Sandgren fought off each of the seven break points he faced and broke his opponent in the sixth and eighth games to force a decider.
But in the third set Johnson, whose run to the final this week included a quarter-final win over top seed and world number nine John Isner, did not flinch and got the only break he would need in the penultimate game to set up his victory.
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Clare Fallon