A Dive & A Win: Johnson Triumphs In Newport

American claims his second grass-court trophy (2016 Nottingham)

The Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open was full of upsets, with just two seeded players advancing to the quarter-finals, where top-seeded Adrian Mannarino was ousted. But one tournament favourite never faltered on the grounds of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Third seed Steve Johnson did not lose more than three games in a set en route to the final, where he defeated first-time ATP World Tour finalist Ramkumar Ramanathan 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 on Sunday to claim his fourth tour-level trophy. It's not bad for a match that the American didn't think he'd get to play due to forecasted rain.

"It was misting, raining for the majority of the match, but never hard enough for us to stop," Johnson said. "I can't believe we got it in and I'm very happy we got it in because I don't think the radar looked overly convincing for the next couple days, either. These things have a funny way of working out, and I'm very glad it did."

It is the first time that the 28-year-old has won multiple titles in one campaign, after retaining his trophy in Houston earlier this year to become the first player to earn victory at that event in back-to-back years since Andy Roddick in 2001-02. Johnson had never moved past the quarter-finals in three previous main draw appearances in Newport, but he won 83 per cent of first-serve points against the World No. 161 to triumph on grass for the second time.

Johnson, who is one of just two players on the ATP World Tour this season (also Roger Federer) to win tour-level titles on multiple surfaces, will climb 14 spots to No. 34 in the ATP Rankings thanks to the 250 points he adds to his tally. He will also take home $99,375 in prize money.

He held off a game effort by Ramanathan, who was the first Indian tour-level finalist since Somdev Devvarman made the Johannesburg final in 2011. Ramanathan used his serve and volley well throughout the match, showing his net skills with impressive pick-ups. 

"He knows how to play in Newport," Johnson said. "He's very good at the net. I thought I hit a lot of good returns down at the feet and he hit some great volleys. I was just fortunate to get an early break in the third and keep the momentum."

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Johnson was able to find his range with tremendous passing shots in the decider, consistently shuffling around backhands — sometimes moving as far as the doubles alley — to hit huge forehands that his opponent could not handle, breaking at both of his opportunities in the third set.

Ramanathan was attempting to become the first Indian ATP World Tour titlist since Leander Paes was victorious at the International Tennis Hall of Fame 20 years ago. He earns 150 points for the best result of his career, as well as $52,340.

"It was a great week for me. I think I gave my best all throughout the week. Steve was hitting some good forehands today. I think he played a good third set and got the better of me."

Did You Know?
Johnson has just 110 ATP Ranking points to defend through the US Open, as he lost his opening matches in Washington, Montreal and Cincinnati last year.