Bernard Tomic is back on court for the first time since winning his second straight ATP Bogota title. He faces American Steve Johnson who is looking to match his quarterfinal run last year in Washington, D.C.
(11) Bernard Tomic vs. Steve Johnson
Tomic will be taking the court for the first time this week after a first round bye. Tomic’s last action came in Bogota where he outlasted Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 for his second straight title at that tournament. It marked Bernie’s best results since a quarterfinal showing at Indian Wells in March. This is his third straight trip to D.C. where has never won back-to-back matches. On the plus side, he’s never lost his opening match.
Steve Johnson comes into this one on the back of another defeat of Lukas Lacko. In three of Johnson’s last four tournaments, he has faced Lacko in the opening round. At Wimbledon, he rallied from down to sets to beat Lacko. In Atlanta, he was in control for the majority of the match in a 6-1, 6-7, 6-2 win. Yesterday, he had it all working against Lacko. Johnson crushed 19 aces and won 85 percent of his service points in a 7-5, 6-3 win. He needed just 72 minutes to secure the win.
Steve Johnson has found the courts in D.C. much to his liking. He’s now 4-1 in his last five matches at the Citi Open. Johnson has 73 aces over that run and has used that weapon to his advantage. During last year’s quarterfinal run, Johnson’s most impressive stat may have been his record in tie breaks. He played James Duckworth, John Isner, Ivo Karlovic and Milos Raonic. He went 4-2 in tie breaks in that stretch.
Johnson has the advantage of having played Tomic before. He beat the Aussie on grass this Summer in Halle 6-3, 7-6. Tomic had trouble handling Johnson’s serve. The American won 77 perent of his service points with 12 aces. Tomic’s other issue was his second serve that got knocked around routinely by Johnson. Johnson won eleven of 16 points off the second serve. Johnson will have the advantage of having already played in the heat in live match conditions, He also won’t be surprised by the Aussie, having seen his quirky slices and varying paced shots recently.
The American’s main issue for his career has been consistency. He has looked like a world beater as he did in the opening round against Lacko and then failed to produce a similar showing the next round too many times to count. That is one of the main things that has held him back from moving up the rankings. Tomic should carry some confidence from Bogota, but he will need his serve to be pristine today to match Johnson’s. One of Tomic’s best attributes this season has been his ability to save break points. He has managed to save nearly 70 percent of the break chances he has allowed. That could be huge today if Johnson serves anywhere close to the level that he showed on Monday.
This should be a tight match and it will benefit Johnson to have his A+ level serve today to avoid getting into any prolonged rallies with Tomic. The more rallies that this match features, the better chance that Tomic is going to have to come out the winner. This columnist expects Johnson to attack and try to keep the points as short as possible to avoid that.
Johnson in three sets.