Sunday, April 16, 2017

American Steve Johnson wins 2017 U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship

Steve Johnson kisses the trophy after winning
the 2017 U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship.
Photo by Richard Fletcher, Bigshot Snapshots
Copyright 2017 TexSport Publications
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2017 TexSport Publications

HOUSTON, TEXAS (April 16, 2017) It took No. 4 Steve Johnson (USA) two hours, 24 minutes to down No. 8 Thomaz Bellucci (Brazil) 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(5) in Sunday's Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship singles final at River Oaks Country Club in Houston. The tournament, which ended on Sunday, April 16, 2017 saw Johnson win his second career title He is now 2-0 versus Bellucci, having won their previous meeting in straight sets in the second round of the 2016 Australian Open. 

Both Bellucci and Johnson arrived late into Houston following Davis Cup ties last weekend. Bellucci was 2-0 in singles as Brazil won 5-0 at Ecuador. Johnson was part of the winning US doubles team in a 3-2 World Group quarterfinal defeat at Australia in Brisbane. For the ninth time in the 10 years since the tournament moved to River Oaks, an American was competing the final, with an American won the title four times since the tournament came to River Oaks. The three previous American wins include Ryan Sweeting in 2011, John Isner in 2013 and Jack Sock in 2015.

Johnson had never reached the semifinals at an ATP clay court event before this week. His lone title came on grass in Nottingham in last summer. Bellucci is the first player to make the final in his Houston debut since Nicolas Almagro in 2013 and was the 
first Brazilian in the U.S. Clay final since Fernando Meligeni won the 1996 title.

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