Johnson credits his 'willpower and competitiveness' for Houston title

by: Matt Cronin | April 17, 2017

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Johnson cramped up in the third set, but fought his way past Thomaz Bellucci. (AP)

Steve Johnson and Thomaz Bellucci's Davis Cup efforts showed in the Houston final, as Bellucci tired and Johnson cramped before winning his second career title.

Johnson was coming off a trip to Australia for the Davis Cup quarterfinals a week before, and playing his second three-setter of the week. Meanwhile, Bellucci had traveled to Quito, Ecuador to compete for Brazil in the team competition, and had gone three sets in all of his matches in Houston.

Despite experiencing cramps midway through the third set, the American held firm to take the deciding tiebreaker

"To win on U.S. soil, and win when you’re not feeling great ... is a testament to my willpower and competitiveness,” said Johnson.

Johnson said his problems were both mental and physical.

“My body has just physically run out of gas after this week," he said. "Coming in from Australia kind of put me behind the eight ball, and then the nerves of trying to close out the final—a lot of factors go into cramping. I was very fortunate to get out of that.”

Bellucci wasn't cramping, but he didn't have the energy to grind against Johnson's big weapons.

"Both players were very tired, and it is not the best conditions for tennis,” Bellucci said. “It's not easy to return this kind of serve. I’m not used to that. I was just trying to keep the ball on the court. If I could return this serve, maybe I could break and then win. I'm happy for my week, but today I am disappointed. I (thought) I could win because I was a little better than him physically.”

Both players are taking a break, not playing this week's event in Monte Carlo.

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