By John Delong
Steve Johnson hasn’t had to play two matches in one day very often in his time on the ATP World Tour.
But heavy rains on Monday forced Johnson into a situation of having to win twice on Tuesday in the first and second rounds of the Winston-Salem Open.
The 29-year-old Californian responded to the challenge better than he could have imagined, and as a result he’s through to Wednesday’s third round.
He beat Corentin Moutet 6-3, 6-3 in a first-round match that was postponed from Monday, then after a two-hour break he came back to beat Daniel Evans 6-3, 6-1 in the second round.
Johnson joked that he was ready to play a third time Tuesday, and for sure the 2018 WSO runner-up had plenty left in the gas tank after needing less than three hours in total court time.
“Not too many times you play twice in a day, but it was a great day,” Johnson said. “No complaints. I thought I played well enough to win the first one, and then much better the second one. So I’m happy to be through today.”
Johnson was particularly pleased with his serving, as he was not broken a single time in the two matches.
“I thought I served well,” he said. “I was able to close out the first set of both matches with my serving. I thought that was a piece of my game that’s maybe been maybe a little off the past month, so I was happy to have a couple chances to consolidate breaks, and I did it.”
Johnson came to the WSO on the heels of two Challengers. He won the title in Aptos two weeks ago, then was beaten in the first round in Vancouver last week. It’s been a tough year overall, as he came into the WSO ranked No. 82 after starting the year at No. 33. His career-high came at No. 21 back in the summer of 2016.
He has played 12 tournaments this year where he lost his first match.
Now, though, he wins two matches in one day.
“It seems to be my MO these days, trying to piece it all together,” Johnson said. “But I feel better. My game is feeling better than it has in a long time, so that’s a positive. Hopefully we can be here til Saturday. I’d like to get to New York maybe a little more tired than maybe the other guys just because I’ve had a long week here. So there’s a finish line, you’ve just got to run through it.”
In other late afternoon matches, Feliciano Lopez beat Pablo Andujar 6-4, 1-6, 7-5; 2016 WSO champion Pablo Carreno Busta beat Marius Copil 6-3, 6-7, 6-4; Hubert Hurkacz beat Duckhee Lee 4-6, 6-0, 6-3; Casper Ruud beat Lloyd Harris 6-1, ret.; Ugo Humbert beat Bjorn Fratangelo 3-6, 6-3, 6-2; and Filip Krajinovic beat Tomas Berdych 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.