ATP Nottingham: Steve Johnson books his place in his first ATP grass court final

Steve Johnson secured his place in his second ATP Tour level final, his first on grass, after defeating the former champion Andreas Seppi in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 at the Aegon Open.

Heading into the match Johnson led their head to head 2-0, winning both encounters in three sets (Winston Salem R32 2013, Shanghai R64 2015). The American, seeded sixth in the event, was playing his second match of the day after completing his win over Kevin Anderson, winning all three games played on Friday in a 7-6(6, 5-7, 6-4 win. Seppi reached his fourth Aegon Open semifinal yesterday after recovering from a set down to defeat Dudi Sela 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 and was bidding to reach the final as he did in 2011 and 2012 when the event was played in Eastbourne.

Johnson starts as strongly as he finished in the match against Anderson

Both players eased their way into the contest with service holds before Johnson had an early break point chance in the third game as he looked to pick up from where he left off earlier on in the day. On this occasion the American failed to capitalize as his backhand hit the net, allowing the Italian to escape with the hold.

After a series of service holds Seppi could not hang on in the ninth game, succumbing to the pressure from the American as he secured the crucial break. The sixth seed was under pressure at 30-30 when serving for the set but kept his cool to wrap up the opening set 6-4, despite only winning four out of the 12 points behind his second serve.

Seppi was hoping to reach his third Aegon Open final. Photo: Getty
Seppi was hoping to reach his third Aegon Open final. Photo: Getty

A rain ridden second set

As dark clouds gathered, Seppi came out to serve and held to love before play was suspended as the rain came down at the Nottingham Tennis Centre.

Play resumed at 17:05 BST an both players struggled initially on serve. Johnson had to recover from 15-30 down to come through, while Seppi was pushed to deuce three times, but also managed to hold.

The rain came down again in the fifth game, but it was not heavy enough to stop play. At 3-3, a double fault and an unforced error put Seppi in trouble down 0-30, but the Italian recovered to hold as the light rain continued.

The ninth game was a lengthy affair, but after Seppi squandered three game points the American struck a backhand winner down the line to reach break point. Johnson drew an error from the Italian to earn a crucial break which was met with a cry of "allez!" from the sixth seed.

The world number 38 looked confident as he served the match out to claim his second win of the day. A 6-4, 6-4 victory. Johnson is raring to go for his match in the final tomorrow against the second seed Pablo Cuevas in what will be their first meeting.