Valencia Open, Spain
Men’s Semifinal: [CR24] Roberto Bautista-Agut (ESP) vs. [CR33] Steve Johnson (USA)
A promising start to the match was derailed in the second set by a few untimely errors from Johnson. He was aiming for his second consecutive Final and second career Final. Perhaps he was slightly fatigued, if not physically, mentally. It is emotionally draining to maintain the level of alertness necessary to compete almost daily in one tournament, much less two consecutive tournaments. Bautista-Agut is no pushover and had the advantage of being a better mover than Johnson. Yet, things were progressing very nicely for Johnson then suddenly a few inexplicable errors came off his racquet and he was broken and the second set was lost.
He came out strong in the final set and had opportunities to make some inroads into Bautista-Agut’s games, but Johnson got tight. Unfortunately the problem with tension is that it has a tendency to increase, especially as the match draws to a close. It was a fiercely competitive third set, neither player willing to concede defeat. They both fought off break points and it was somewhat fitting that the set/match would be decided in a tiebreak. Johnson had match points and errant forehands cost him the match or perhaps, too much tension was the cause. Bautista-Agut stayed calm even when he faced defeat and in the end, he was the victor. He fought off a slew of match points to defeat Johnson 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(8). It was not the ending Johnson and his fans hoped for.