Valencia Open, Spain
[CR33] Steve Johnson (USA) vs. [CR91] Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (USA)
American Johnson has saved his best tennis for the end of the season. He took out the number two seed in the second round in straight sets. Today he defeated one of the toughest Spaniards on tour, Garcia-Lopez, 7-5, 6-4 to get to his second consecutive semifinal. What has caused this turn around in Johnson’s game? Confidence, Johnson has rediscovered his belief in himself and his game. He’s been just on the fringes of public awareness, overshadowed by John Isner and Jack Sock; however, Johnson is fully in the spotlight now as he has shown his mental fortitude late in the season. That’s a very positive thing, not only for Johnson, but for American tennis. Will he make it two consecutive Finals?
Swiss Indoors Basel, Switzerland
[CR29] Jack Sock (USA) vs. [CR49] Donald Young (USA)
Public expectation can either propel one to great heights or cause one to collapse under the weight of that burden. Athletes involved in individual sports are more vulnerable, psychologically, to the pressure of expectation and Young is no stranger to the burden of public expectation. Fortunately, that burden has now been shifted unto the shoulders of a few promising young American tennis players, Sock being one of them. What was the state of Young’s psyche as he stepped on court to play an opponent who now wears the mantle of the next great American “tennis star”? Did it unnerve him? Did it cause him to feel an added level of tension? Young had to be affected emotionally and it showed as he was broken the first game of the match. The battle was taking place on the court as well as internally, for both players. That would explain the inconsistent level of play. Although Young recovered to win the first set, a two break deficit in the subsequent sets was too much for him to overcome and Sock won 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.