Steve’s stupendous service guides the American past below par Vesely to progress into the 2nd Round


Steve Johnson (United States of America) ATP No.92 Bt Jiri Vesely (Czech Republic) ATP No.73 – 6-7,7-6,6-3,6-2

World Number 92 Steve Johnson recovered from an early scare to capitalise on the Czech’s service capitulation to cruise to a four-set victory in the French Open 1st Round.

Day Three’s final Court 12 encounter pitted together two players with varying success on the clay court this season. Vesely came into this French Open without a win in an ATP clay-court event, bowing out at the first stage in Marrakech, Estoril and Madrid. The only form of solace on the surface this year for the Czech No.2 was a run to the semi-final in a Marbella Challenger Tour event.

Steve Johnson also arrived relatively undercooked with regards to high-level clay-court play, with just two matches at the US Clay Court Championships under his belt at ATP 250 level and above. The US No.8 did reach the final in the Sarasota Challenger Tour event, only to then lose in the 1st Round in the Tallahassee Challenger.

As such, this match may not have been the pick for highlight-reel clay-court tennis, but with Vesely (6ft6) and Johnson (6ft2), there are two solid servers that can grind out points.

It is perhaps unsurprising that the first two sets went on serve to the game, both resulting in tiebreaks. It was Vesely who held his nerve in the first, with just a singular point break proving the difference for Johnson in the second.

At one set apiece, it was anyone’s game, but as the sun started to descend upon Roland Garros, Vesely seemed to disappear into the shadows, with Johnson breaking in his opponent’s first service game of the set. The American capitalised on Vesely’s inability to get the first serve in, and a weary-looking second serve that followed, sending the Czech all over the court and varying the drop shots.

Following this break, Vesely depicted a disheartened figure as Johnson’s service game seemed to grow stronger by the point.

The American took the third and was quick to break in the fourth as he reaped the rewards for some wasteful tennis by Vesely.

To his credit, the 28-year-old from the Czech Republic kept plucking away, but Johnson showed the parity in class that the rankings do not, with the American’s peak reaching No.39, whereas Vesely is currently in his peak at No.72.

Johnson was in cruise control after the first break in set three and dispatched his opponent with relative ease despite not playing all that much high-level clay-court tennis in 2022.

The American advances to the 2nd Round and will take on the winner of Pablo Carreno Busta and the vastly experienced home favourite Gilles Simon. There is an argument that Johnson may be the underdog either way, but that will not bother the American one bit as he was a 13/10 outsider for his 1st Round encounter.

Johnson will likely get a day’s rest before returning on Thursday for his 2nd round clash.

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