Steve Johnson (USA) vs.  Daniel Elahi Galan (COL)
The twenty-two-year-old Colombian had never won an ATP Tour match prior to this tournament. Johnson was the two-time defending champion and expected to have an easy walk to the quarterfinals; however, the young Colombian had other plans. With a little help from Johnson, who double faulted on the first break point opportunity against his serve in the eighth game; Galan broke to serve for the first set.
There was no drama as both players are calm by nature; however, the lack of intensity belied their intensity. Galan calmly went about securing the first set, showing no evidence of tension despite the magnitude of the moment. He demonstrated his desire when Johnson’s forehand went long, and he was able to secure the first set on his serve. His fist pumps told the story of his bottled-up passion.
Johnson’s struggles continue. Is it a matter of desire or has his poor performance been the result of low confidence? He is a newly married man and perhaps the commitment to tennis has dwindled a little, perhaps? Whatever the reason, Johnson has not been playing up to his potential. The first quarter of the season is over, and Johnson has only made it to one quarterfinal. There is still time to turn his season around; however, opportunities like this should not be squandered. This is a match that Johnson should have easily won.
Yet, as often stated, matches are not played on paper. Despite the huge discrepancy in their rankings, Galan has the distinct advantage of being a South American. South Americans traditionally excel at playing on clay and Americans traditionally struggle to perform at their best on clay. Thus, Johnson surprised many when he won this title in 2017 and 2018.
I often say that the lower ranked opponent did not win, but that his opponent lost; that was somewhat the case in this match. Lacking confidence, Johnson made uncharacteristic errors on critical points to get broken in the first and second set. Galan simply was opportunistic, plus he protected his serve extremely well and both combined for the easy 6-3, 6-3 victory over the two-time defending champion.
SOURCE OF IMAGES: serveandrally