ATP Miami Open: Nicolas Mahut sends home favourite Steve Johnson packing with a three-set victory

ATP Miami Open: Nicolas Mahut sends home favourite Steve Johnson packing with a three-set victory

Steve Johnson exited at the hands of Nicolas Mahut losing out 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in the second round at the Miami Open.

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Nicolas Mahut defeated 23rd seeded Steve Johnson 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 to book a spot in the third round at the Miami Open.

Mahut goes up a set

Both players started by holding their own serves relatively comfortable. Steve Johnson began the third game by taking a love-30 lead, however, Mahut forced the errors from the American to get level at 30-all before a double fault led to a break point. A frustrated Johnson pelted the ball out the court and received a warning for his troubles. A forehand winner down the line was missed and Mahut got the early break at 2-1. He followed it up by consolidating serve to go 3-1 up on Johnson.

Nicolas Mahut gears up to strike a forehand shot (Photo: Aaron Gilbert/Getty Images)
Nicolas Mahut gears up to strike a forehand shot (Photo: Aaron Gilbert/Getty Images)

On Mahut's service games the 27-year-old did get to deuce but was coming unstuck with the Frenchman doing enough to get out of the games. Down 4-2, Johnson once again took a love-30 lead but let that slip and allowed the 35-year old back into the game as he earned a break point with an erratic forehand. First time of asking Mahut broke to go 5-2 up. But he couldn't close the set out with Johnson breaking back at the third time of asking hitting a return to which the Frenchman couldn't deal with, 5-3. The 23rd seed did consolidate his serve for 5-4. Serving for the set a second time, the world number 55 grabbed a set point at love-40 and clinched the opener with a backhand winner, 6-4. 

Johnson fights back with late break, sends match to a third set

Just like the first set, both players did begin by holding their serves. The American was put under pressure in the third game with two break points going the way of Mahut at 15-40. An unreturnable serve followed by an unforced error got the game to deuce with Johnson then holding to stay ahead at 2-1. From that moment both players then got into a slight rhythm on serve with the next three games being held with the score locked at 3-3. The next game Johnson was taken to deuce before the 35-year-old stretched and hit a passing shot winner to bring up a third break point of the set.

Steve Johnson during the BNP Paribas Open last week (Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Steve Johnson during the BNP Paribas Open last week (Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Once again, the world number 28 denied Mahut by forcing the error then going on to hold for 3-4. Just like earlier n the set, both players looked comfortable on serve and with Johnson down a set, he always looked like cracking. However, in the 12th game up 5-6, he took the Frenchman to deuce from love-30 behind before grabbing a set point. After having a game point, Mahut then fell a set point behind for the second time. This time the American took advantage and won the set 5-7 to force a third. 

Mahut grabs early break, powers through and advances

Mahut would have a fast start to the set, going up love-40 and gaining triple break points by forcing the error from Johnson. The deficit was cut to one but a volley winner allowed the Frenchman to break immediately. He then consolidated comfortably to take a 2-0 lead. The 35-year-old would put Johnson under enormous pressure, bringing up five break points in the longest game of the match before the American eventually held serve to get on the scoreboard at 2-1.

Nicolas Mahut hits a backhand shot (Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Nicolas Mahut hits a backhand shot (Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Just like in parts of the second set, both of the players then began settling down and hold their service games much more comfortable than ever in the match before with a very brief rain delay during the match. But with Mahut still up a break from the start of the match, he found himself serving for a place in round three at 5-4. A match point went Mahut's way at 15-40 with an unreturnable bullet of a serve out wide. First time of asking, the Frenchman sealed a place in round three. 

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