Johnson beats Ramkumar to claim Newport title

Ramkumar Ramanathan’s phenomenal run ended with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 defeat in the final.

File Photo: Ramkumar Ramanathan was bidding to become the first ATP title winner since Leander Paes.   -  AFP

Third seeded Steve Johnson defeated first time finalist Ramkumar Ramanathan of India 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 to capture the ATP Tour's Newport tournament on Sunday.

The 28-year-old American earned his fourth career ATP title and second of the season, winning 83 percent of his first serves in the one hour, 59 minute hour match on the grass courts.

“I have been fortunate enough to win a couple of times,” said Johnson, who won the clay court tournament in Houston in April. “This is my first one as married man so now I can go home and share this with my wife.”

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Johnson, who breezed through the draw without dropping more than three games in a set heading into the final, closed out the match with a blistering forehand winner down the line. “He came out and served great,” Johnson said of Ramanathan. “He was phenomenal around the net and I was just happy to take care of my one chance in the first set and get a lead and buckle down in the third.”

Johnson, who had one prior grass court title, had never moved past the quarterfinals in three previous main draw appearances at Newport.

The start of the match was delayed because of weather and it also rained during portions of the contest. Johnson had to receive treatment in the second set for a sore shoulder after a hard tumble to the ground. “I fell awkwardly on my shoulder, it just stung for a bit,” he said.

‘Keep giving my best’

Ramanathan, who is ranked 161st in the world, was attempting to become the first Indian ATP title winner since Leander Paes was victorious at the same tournament two decades ago. “I am going to keep going, giving my best, and next time I am going to win the title,” said Ramanathan, who blasted 10 aces.

The Chennai native was also the first Indian player to reach a singles final since 2011 when Somdev Devvarman lost in Johannesburg to South African Kevin Anderson. Ramanathan is the third-lowest ranked player to reach a ATP final this year.

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