Johnson pulls off great escape to reach 2nd round

Steve Johnson (Getty Images)
Steve Johnson (Getty Images)

New York - American Steve Johnson saved half a dozen match points in the third set as he rallied from two sets down to reach the second round of the US Open on Tuesday.

The 19th seed, who won his first ATP title in Nottingham this year, trailed Russian Evgeny Donskoy 6-4, 6-1, 5-2 before he managed to turn things around for a 4-6, 1-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3, 6-3 victory in three hours 12 minutes.

Serving at 2-5 in the third to stay in the match, Johnson trailed 0-40 but managed to hang on - then faced two more match points two games later.

Asked how he pulled off the great escape, Johnson admitted he wasn't quite sure.

"The last three-and-a-half hours have been a little bit of a blur, to be honest," he said. "I was ready to pack my bags and go home, and I just found a way to get out of that service game at 5-2.

"After winning the third, I just gave myself a shot. I just figured maybe my best stuff's not today, but I'll use my legs and run and just find a way."

With the hard-fought win Johnson can try to keep building on his 2016 success.

Since his win in Nottingham in June he has made the fourth round at Wimbledon, reached the quarter-finals at an ATP Masters for the first time at Cincinnati and reached the quarter-finals at the Rio Olympics.

His second round match, however, is a tall order. He'll face 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro - unseeded as he continues his climb back in the wake of a series of wrist injuries.

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