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Steve Johnson v Tennys Sandgren ATP Houston tennis predictions, betting tips & live stream: Back-to-back Houston titles for Johnson

Andrew Hendrie 15 Apr 2018
  • Steve Johnson vs Tennys Sandgren is live from Houston at 2.00pm local time on Sunday (8.00pm BST)
  • First tour-level meeting between the pair
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from Houston at Unibet > live streaming > tennis
Steve Johnson (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Steve Johnson attempts to defend his U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship title in Houston on Sunday when he faces compatriot and first-time ATP finalist Tennys Sandgren.

Watch and bet on Johnson vs Sandgren live from Houston at Unibet > live streaming > tennis. The final begins at 2.00pm local time on Sunday (8.00pm BST).

An all-American final awaits in Houston for just the second time in the last 15 years as defending champion Steve Johnson takes on Tennys Sandgren for the 2018 U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship silverware. Johnson has been extended to three sets in three of his four encounters en route to the final, while Sandgren has registered straight sets victories in three of his four matches as the controversial American secured his spot in his maiden ATP final. Johnson and Sandgren take to court at 2.00pm local time on Sunday (8.00pm BST).

Defending Houston champion Johnson has come through a series of fellow Americans in order to return to the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship final, conquering Ernesto Escobedo, Frances Tiafoe, John Isner and Taylor Fritz over the past week. Three of those four matches have gone the distance, with Johnson recovering from a set down to edge Escobedo 3-6 7-6(5) 6-2 in the opening round before beating Delray Beach champion Tiafoe in straight sets to make the quarter-finals. Johnson would then register his fourth top 10 victory in claiming a 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(5) victory over Miami Masters champion John Isner before surviving another three-set battle with rising star Taylor Fritz in Saturday’s semi-finals, prevailing 7-5 6-7(4) 6-2.

Since making the full-time transition from college tennis to the ATP World Tour, Johnson has been a steady and consistent performer, although the American has struggled on tour recently, dropping out of the top 50 for the first time since 2015 this season. Johnson’s career-best year came in 2016 when he won his first ATP title on the grass of Nottingham, reached the semi-finals of the ATP 500 event in Washington D.C. and the quarter-finals of the Cincinnati Masters, Queen’s Club, Newport and the Rio Olympics, where he came closer than anyone to beating eventual gold medalist Andy Murray. Johnson also made the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam for the first time at Wimbledon, defeating Grigor Dimitrov before losing to Roger Federer as he hit a career-high ranking of No. 21.

Johnson started 2017 by reaching the semi-finals of Auckland and quarter-finals of Memphis, Delray Beach and Acapulco before capturing his second career title in Houston, but not long after personal tragedy struck as he lost his father, resulting in an understandable drop in form, with the American failing to make another semi-final for the season. Johnson snapped that run by reaching the final four in Delray Beach in February, beating Milos Raonic along the way, while he also made the semi-finals of the Irving Challenger and the third round of the Miami Masters before returning to the Houston final this week.

Tennys Sandgren (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, Tennys Sandgren has bounced back from a difficult last couple of months to surge into his first ATP World Tour final, dropping just one set on his way to the title match in victories over Blaz Kavcic, Nicolas Kicker, Guido Pella and Ivo Karlovic, surviving 35 winners from the towering Croatian in Saturday’s semi-finals to emerge victorious by a 7-6(2) 7-6(4) scoreline.

Sandgren made global headlines in January as he beat the likes of Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem on the way to his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open, but the bulk of talk surrounding the American was a result of his controversial (to say the least) views and opinions on social media, which surfaced courtesy of his run to the last eight. Sandgren attempted to defend and justify his controversial opinions in a statement after losing in the quarter-finals to Hyeon Chung, but the 26-year-old departed Melbourne as one of the most disliked figures in tennis - and it clearly had a negative affect on him in the ensuing months.

Sandgren, who had only won two ATP main draw matches before the Australian Open, failed to win another completed match until arriving in Houston this week, benefitting from retirements in Rio de Janeiro and Indian Wells before losing in the second round, while he also bowed out in the opening rounds of Sao Paolo and Miami, along with a first round defeat in qualifying at the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires. But the Tennessee native has returned to top form in Houston this week and is now just one win away from a first ATP World Tour title.

Johnson and Sandgren have never played before at tour level, but they have met twice on the Futures circuit (2009) and at Challenger level (2013), with Sandgren winning both matches on clay in three sets. Sandgren is a defensive player and bases his game around movement and a consistent baseline game, while Johnson is more aggressive with his booming forehand and big serve. Houston clay plays a lot faster than most clay courts, which should suit Johnson, but the defending champion has played a lot of tennis so far this week. Sandgren’s brick wall tennis will force him to work extremely hard once again, but if he can produce one last big effort, he should be too strong for his compatriot.


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Steve Johnson v Tennys Sandgren ATP Houston tennis predictions, betting tips & live stream: Back-to-back Houston titles for Johnson

Steve Johnson attempts to defend his U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship title in Houston on Sunday when he faces compatriot and first-time ATP finalist Tennys Sandgren.

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