ATP Nottingham: Steve Johnson knocks out top seed Kevin Anderson as match resumes on Friday

Steve Johnson won all three games on day two of his quarterinfal clash as he defeated Kevin Anderson 6-7(6), 7-5, 6-4 to knock out the top seed at the Aegon Open.

Prior to this match, the two players had met on six occasions, with the South African leading their head to head 4-2. It was the American who won their last match, back at the Vienna Open in 2015, also at the quarterfinal stage, with Johnson winning 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-4. Anderson enjoyed a straight sets win over Fernando Verdasco in the third round and was bidding to reach his first ATP Tour semifinal since he captured the title in Winston-Salem last August.

Meanwhile, Johnson was appearing in his second straight ATP quarterfinal after a fine run at the Queen’s Club last week. The American had backed up last week’s result with straight set victories over John Millman and Vasek Pospisil in the previous rounds.

The top seed makes a strong start

Anderson picked up from where he left off last night, holding both his opening service games to love. In the fifth game the South African seized his moment to strike, ripping a backhand down the line passing shot winner to get to 30-30, hitting a backhand down the line service return winner and then drawing the error from the American to break.

The seventh seed got the half chance he was looking for on the South African's serve at 15-30, but was unable to capitalise as Anderson's first serves found the mark as he kept ahead in the score. The South African was under more pressure after making two unforced errors and hitting a double fault to fall down 0-40. The 30-year-old responded with two aces and an unreturned serve, before saving a fourth break point with another unreturned serve. He then secured the hold with an 139mph ace.

Top seed Anderson looked frustrated with his game at times during the match. Photo: Getty
Top seed Anderson looked frustrated with his game at times during the match. Photo: Getty

The American strikes back

When serving for the set Anderson moved into a 30-0 lead. However, a double fault, a fine lob by the American and a couple of unforced errors allowed Johnson to break back to level at 5-5.

Johnson did not have it easy out there on Centre Court as he was faced with break point once again in the match after an unforced error. The American recovered the situation with a big first serve and held to move in front for the first time since the third game of the set. The South African proceeded to hold to love to take us into a tiebreak.

Johnson gained the first mini break but relinquished the advantage to be pegged back to 5-4. Anderson then made an unforced error to hand two set points to the American. The South African saved the first with ace before forcing Johnson into an error on second. However, another unforced error from the top seed gifted the sixth seed the first set 7-6(6).

Anderson responds in set number two

Johnson almost had a nightmare start to the second set after a double fault left him break point down. The American recovered to hold and remained strong up until Anderson made a crucial breakthrough in the 12th game, breaking the sixth seed after hitting a backhand cross-court winner to take the second set 7-5.

Both players held comfortably on serve before play was suspended due to bad light at 20:45 BST with the score at 4-3 to Anderson on serve. The players will come back tomorrow to complete their match before competing in the semifinal against the seventh seed Andreas Seppi later on in the day.

Johnson dominant on day two

The American came flying out of the blocks, winning the first six points upon resumption on his way to breaking to take a 5-4. Johnson dropped the opening point on serve but never looked back, closing out the match with an ace. He will play Andreas Seppi later on in the semifinals on Friday.