The French Open second round win for American tennis star Steve Johnson was a bittersweet one.
The 25th-seed, who recently lost his father Steve Johnson Sr., had trouble containing his raw emotion after saving two set points in the fourth-set tiebreak to beat Borna Coric 6-2, 7-6(8), 3-6, 7-6(6).
After the victory, Johnson sunk to his knees, tears in his eyes.
His late father, a well-regarded tennis coach from Southern California, unexpectedly passed away in his sleep at the age of 58 just three weeks ago.
“I just miss my dad,” Johnson said after the match.
“I wish he was following along – I know he is from upstairs – but it’s just so emotional, it’s hard to describe.”
“Physically, I’m OK, emotionally, I’m a mess,” added Johnson . “He always wanted me to be a fighter and a competitor so that’s what I’m going to do, day in and day out.
“That’s the only thing I can do.”
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When Johnson first received news of his father’s death, he pulled out of the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Rome, reports Sports Illustrated. He went on to play in Geneva last week and met with his mother, sister and fiancée.
“It makes it easier and harder all at the same time to see them,” Johnson told Tennis.com, in regards to having his mother, sister and fiancée with him.
Johnson faces No. 6 Dominic Thiem next.