Johnson knocks Sock off

The Associated PressHOUSTON (AP) — Fourth-seeded Steve Johnson beat top-seeded Jack Sock 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Saturday in an all-American semifinal in the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship.

Johnson won his lone ATP Tour title last year on grass at Nottingham in England. He will face eighth-seeded Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil, a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 winner over American Ernesto Escobedo.

“I just got lucky in the end,” said the 27-year-old Johnson, a two-time national collegiate champion at the USC. “He missed some first serves and a couple forehands, which is abnormal for him, and I just took my chances and was able to get it. This is great, my first final on U.S. soil. It’s fun to give myself a chance.”

A week ago, Sock and Johnson were on the same side, coming up short together in a losing effort by the U.S. Davis Cup team in the quarterfinals against Australia.

“Whomever I’m playing, it’s business,” said Johnson, who had dropped four of his five previous ATP World Tour matches against Sock. “That’s sports. You’re going to play guys you’re buddies with. You’ve got to put it aside and go about your business.”

Sock won the 2015 event at Forest Oaks for the first of his three tour titles, and finished second last year. He’s the highest-ranked U.S. player at No. 16.

“He played well at the end and deserved to win,” Sock said. “He does what he does. He slices his return well and puts some in the corners.”

Sock served almost flawlessly until the eighth game of the second set, when he double-faulted for the first time and faced double-break point. He extricated himself from that jam, but was finally broken in the 10th game, setting up another third set — his third in three days.Speech

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