PARIS—Steve Johnson, who won his French Open first-round encounter in five long sets over Yuichi Sugita, says that he is still shaken up.
His father, Steve Johnson, Sr. passed away on May 11. Steve Sr. had been a coach for 35 years in Southern California.
“Stevie J” said that he is playing OK, but still thinking about his father on court.
“It's not about tennis right now," he said. "You know, my mom [Michelle] and my sister [Alison] had this whole trip planned for years now. [Alison] graduated college and they were going to come here and kind of follow me to Queens and then go back before she starts work.
“My mom and sister and my fiancée [Kendall Bateman], so it makes it easier and harder all at the same time to see them. Just the pain, just trying to get through it. It's just hard.”
Tennis Channel's Daily Serve recaps Day 2 at Roland Garros.
Last week in Geneva, he reached the quarterfinals. In Paris, the No. 25-ranked Johnson is trying as hard as he can, but it’s not easy to focus.
He played the first three sets of his first-round meeting on the first day of the tournament before play was stopped because of darkness, and resumed the next day.
“It's probably one of the harder matches I've played," he said. "In Geneva I was able to get through it a little easier. At the end of the third set yesterday, just the emotions hit me pretty hard, and I was lucky to have the night to figure it out.
“You have all night to think about what could have happened or what could have been. And just lucky to come out and win today in the fifth. The last two weeks of tennis hasn’t been about tennis for me. Just trying to do the right things and just move on as best as I can.”
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