Fourth-seeded Steve Johnson beat top-seeded Jack Sock 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Saturday in an all-American semifinal in the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship.
Johnson won his lone ATP Tour title last year on grass at Nottingham in England. He will face eighth-seeded Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil, a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 winner over American Ernesto Escobedo.
Sock, a Blue Valley North graduate, won the 2015 event at Forest Oaks for the first of his three tour titles, and finished second last year. He’s the highest-ranked U.S. player at No. 16.
Sock served almost flawlessly until the eighth game of the second set, when he double-faulted for the first time and faced double-break point. He extricated himself from that jam, but was finally broken in the 10th game, setting up another third set – his third in three days.
Sock broke back straight away, then held for 2-0 and 3-1 before Johnson charged, winning the final five games of the match. Sock save one match point with a crosscourt forehand winner, then ripped a forehand return down the line to reach break point himself before Johnson re-composed himself, leveling the game and putting Sock away with his 11th ace.
Bellucci has won four tour events, all on clay. Making his first appearance in the only ATP event played on clay in North America, he won his fourth three-set match in four days. It marked the first time in 27 years, going back to David Wheaton in 1990, that a player needed 12 sets to reach the final.