The 6th seed Steve Johnson has successfully defended his Houston title after a 7-6 2-6 6-4 win over the fellow American Tennys Sandgren in 2 hours and 22 minutes, claiming his third ATP title and becoming the first player since Andy Roddick in 2002 who managed to win back-to-back titles in Houston. This was their first meeting and Steve had to work hard to emerge as a winner, winning just one point more than his rival and suffering three breaks of serve from five opportunities he gave to Sandgren.
Competing in his first ATP final, Tennys fends off 12 out of 14 break points to stay in touch until the closing stages of the match, wasting game points in the ninth game of the final set which cost him dearly in the end.
Johnson was off to a perfect start, losing four points in the opening five service games and creating four break points in games four and six to keep the pressure on Tennys. Sandgren fends them off with attacking tennis, staying in touch with his rival and earning a break in game 11 when Steve netted an easy forehand.
Serving for the set, Tennys lost his serve after a poor volley at the net and they had to decide the winner in the tie break, with the momentum on Johnson's side. He grabbed three mini-breaks to open up a 5-2 lead and he wrapped up the set with a forehand down the line winner, moving a set away from the title.
Tennys had to give his best to avoid the setback in set number two, repelling all seven break points he faced in the first three service games, building the confidence for the rest of the set. Johnson couldn't keep his focus after wasting so many chances and Tennys broke him in games six and eight, closing the set with his second break at 5-2 and a forehand error from Johnson, sending the match into a decider.
They both served well there in the opening eight games and Steve made a crucial move with a break in the ninth game for a 5-4 lead. Serving for the title, he saved a break point with a risky forehand down the line winner and a service winner pushed him over the finish line, celebrating his third title on the Tour and hoping for more of the same in the weeks to come after mediocre results in the recent months that has kept him out from the Top 50.