NOTTINGHAM, June 25, 2016
Steve Johnson is the champion of the €704,805 Aegon Open Nottingham. The sixth seed from the United States ousted the tournament’s number two Pablo Cuevas 7-6, 7-5 in Saturday’s final.
Cuevas arrived in Nottingham with only two grass-court wins in his entire career and added four more en-route to the title match. Johnson appeared in his only second tour final after finishing runner-up to David Ferrer in Vienna last October.
The first set saw no break points and Johnson clinched the frame in the tie-break 7-5, hitting a big service winner. The US-American capitalized on his first break point in the third game of the second set, firing 10 aces to seal victory in one hour and 32 minutes.
“It is tough to fight those feelings of winning your first title but I managed to win one of those two match points,” Johnson was relieved after clinching his first title on the ATP World Tour. He takes away €86,850 in prize money as well as 250 ATP ranking points.
“This is the highlight of my career so far no doubt. I want to say thanks to everyone who supported me. I won a Challenger here in 2013 to get into Wimbledon for the first time, so Nottingham has a soft spot in my heart no doubt. I am so happy to have won this one today and had this experience.
“My coach and my dad are here, my girl-friend is gonna with me this whole trip. This is such a blessing, as my only other final in Vienna was too far away for my family. To have people here around, who supported my tennis my whole life means the world to me,” the world number 38 was overwhelmed.
“I am taking a lot of confidence from this week. It’s definetely a great feeling. I am just a bit tired emotionally but there is no time to relax, as Monday comes Wimbledon,” told Johnson, facing Malek Jaziri in the opening round in London. He leads 2-0 in head to head records.
Earlier the day, second seeds Dominic Inglot and Daniel Nestor claimed their first team title with a 7-5, 7-6 victory over top favourites Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo. The match was interrupted at 5-5 in the second set, as just as Dodig and Melo saved two match points to remain in the final, it started raining and play was suspended for about an hour. The British-Canadian-combination finally sealed the deal in the tie-break 7-4 after one hour and 17 minutes.
“We started a bit slowly, but we were able to stay in their service games. That let us bide our time,” Inglot said. “They don’t come much tougher than these guys, that’s for sure. To get a win against this caliber of a team before Wimbledon is a big boost. We did well to hang in there even after dropping the match points.”
“I think the rain actually helped us refocus,” Nestor said. “We were still in a good situation, and we came back out pretty strongly. Our opponents played well to get a second life. It was high-quality tennis. There is so little margin for error in the doubles game right now. Every match can be 50/50, but you can also beat anyone as well.”
Tennis action will return to Nottingham in 2017 with a WTA International and ATP Challenger combined event. The ATP 250 tournament will be relocated to Eastbourne again.