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May 27, 2015

Steve Johnson


S. JOHNSON/S. Stakhovsky
2-6, 6-3, 7-6, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You were talking the other day about clutch play, big moments, what you've learned. Winning two Grand Slam tiebreakers like that kind of key?
STEVE JOHNSON: Yeah, you know, it's very important. He kind of came out and steamrolled me in the first set and early part of the second, but righted the ship a little bit. In the third I played a bad game to get broken back. You know, I think it's just a sign of maybe I'm maturing a little bit. Maybe in the past I would've lost my cool a little bit. I kind of stayed calm, won the breaker. In the fourth he started to serve much better. I didn't have any looks. I think he made all kinds of first serves. I didn't really have that many looks at seconds. So I was happy to have won that crazy last couple points in the breaker. I'm here and not playing a fifth set. Pretty happy about that.

Q. In the tiebreaker, looked for moment like your forehand was deserting you there. The last one. You played three forehand errors and then took a dropshot on a normal shot you would hit a forehand on. Ultimately you hit a forehand winner for the match.

Q. You brought a lot of the other things to the table today besides the big serve and the big forehand.
STEVE JOHNSON: Yeah, you know, it's on of those things. My forehand, just like anybody, it's not prone to always be on and always be there. When it comes down to time to win, I'm not going to think twice about hitting it or going for it. I think I could have missed six forehands in that breaker to lose all six points. At 7-6 I'm still going to run around and hit a forehand. I am going to live and die with that shot. That's the way I want to play tennis. That's what has got me where I am today. I'm going to stick with it regardless of what the score says.

Q. Wawrinka next. Are these the kind of matches now you feel like you should be able to win against someone like Stan? Have you practiced before? I think it's your first ATP meeting at least.
STEVE JOHNSON: Yeah, I've never played Stan, never hit with Stan. It's one of those things, couple years ago I would've been so happy to get to the third round. It's like, Great. I exceeded expectations by getting to this point. In my mind I'm here it win. I'm not here to be complacent making it to Friday. I'm going to walk out on the court on Friday or whatever with the mentality that I'm going to come out a winner. You know, that's just kind of the way I think everybody views sports. I think ever guy in the locker room walks out on the court knowing they have a chance to win. I think that's what makes the game so fun.

Q. I wanted to ask you a little bit about staying the course in college. Obviously your NCAA record is incredible. You have back like in the States the other day Noah Rubin got to the final of NCAAs as a freshman. Jamie Loeb won it as a sophomore. I think Noah is planning on going pro. I don't know what Jamie is doing. What would be your argument from your experience for staying the course?
STEVE JOHNSON: You know, it's kind of a -- not a sensitive subject, but I think everybody has to do what's best for them. Maybe it's right for those people to leave and pursue a professional career. Maybe not. Every position is different. I was always going to play my four years of college tennis, so to me I was always going to come back and finish it out. You know, to some guys it's not the right path. It's just one of those things that, yes, I love college tennis. I'll always tell people if you're considering it, these are the pros, these are the cons, this is what you want to do. But in some cases, if you're ready, you're ready. But I was kind of in a unique situation. I guess with having won a third team title that maybe a lot of the people thought I was going to go pro after my junior year after winning three team and one individual, but it's just one of those things I just want to see it through. Just wanted to kind of right that path that John kind of paved for us college guys four or five years later. Now hopefully what I'm doing now can help the next group of college guys or young pros come out and come out with the same confidence.

Q. So you don't feel like you missed any time by making that choice?
STEVE JOHNSON: Nope. Not at all.

Q. What were your expectations coming into this tournament? Did it change if you saw the draw? I know you said you expect to win and you're here to win, but did you think, Yeah, third round, I can do that? Have you exceeded them? Just kind of mentality.
STEVE JOHNSON: It's one of those things, you know. A lot of it depends on draw. You get placed in a hat with a bunch of chips, and you get pulled where you get pulled. You got bad matchups, good matchups, you name it. I was fortunate enough to play Guillermo. He's a great player. I just kind of won the big points that day. By beating him you're rewarded by not playing a seed in the second round because you beat him in the first round. It's one of those things. You just kind of take it day by day, don't look too far ahead, and just go out there and kind of focus on right foot -- you know, next foot in front of the next. So just one day at a time, one step at a time, one shot at a time, and just kind of go with that.

Q. I didn't see every minute of the match. What were you discussing with your friend Mr. Stakhovsky at the end there?
STEVE JOHNSON: Yeah, actually a lot of guys asked me that in the locker room. Oh, what happened? At 6-5 in the second set - not in the breaker; he was serving at 40-15, I believe - he hits a serve that I'm still convinced is about an inch or half inch too long. I mean, really. Chair gets up and he's like, No, there's space. It's right there. The mark is not complete. I'm like, I see a circle. The mark to me is complete. Just kind of is funny. Sergiy is like, Look, I'll at it at the end. I was like, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to stop you for a minute, whatever we did. I'm not trying to stall here. I'm just really curious as to why this is actually in. At the end he kind of said, he's like, Look, I saw the mark. I would've said it was out, hands down. So I just kind of joked and said, Oh, I should have pulled out my phone like you did a couple years ago. He says, Oh, yeah, that's a couple thousand dollar mistake. I wouldn't do that. So it was good.

Q. It wasn't contentious.
STEVE JOHNSON: No, no, no, not at all. I was really shocked that the ref came out of the chair and said that this serve was good and play two. Not that it would've affected the game...

Q. But he didn't get a look at it? He didn't come over?
STEVE JOHNSON: Sergiy, at the end of the match he did. He kind of looked and he's like, Yeah, it was out. But that's life. You're going to get calls that go your way, his way. Can't really dwell on a missed call on a serve. That's about it.

Q. I know that John served as a mentor for you, but what about the U.S. guys in full? He has been now the No. 1 American. What sort of advice has he passed on to you guys overall?
STEVE JOHNSON: You know, it's more of like one of those things that you see what he does and you kind of just feed off his energy. At times he's of course been negative. We've all seen it. We all are. I mean, that's just life. He puts in a lot of hard work. He's a competitor. Never seen him go away in matches. He is always going to fight to the last point, go down. It's something we can feed off. You know, if our top dog is going out there to lay it the a line every day, why not us? We're practicing with everybody on the U.S. side, so it's just one of those things where we like to push each other to do bigger and better things.

Q. So Lopez in the first round and then Stakhovsky and now Wawrinka, all three very different types of players in terms how they approach the clay in particular. Going into this match with Stan, big power hitter, probably miss a few more balls than Lopez. What's your thought on that matchup?
STEVE JOHNSON: I mean, he's a great tennis player. He's top 10 in the world; he's won a Grand Slam; he's won plenty of events; he know what he's doing out here. That's the fun in it. I get to go there and problem solve what he's going to bring to the table on Friday, and he's going to have to hopefully problem solve what I bring to the table and we'll kind of go from there. But he's got a great backhand. Everybody knows that. That's no secret. But he's had a time where kind of goes and he swings where he misses some balls, but he's top 10 for a reason. He's not going to go out there and just give me three sets. I am expecting to out there and take it and have a good match, I think.

Q. How much does the clay here stain your clothes or shoes? Do you keep the stain as a souvenir?
STEVE JOHNSON: No. I kind of just throw it all away. Yeah.

Q. Do you wash it at all?
STEVE JOHNSON: No, look, it's actually funny because I don't bring any white shorts to the clay season because they just get ruined. I just have all dark clothes, which is fine. Doesn't bother me. But the clay court shoes, they just kind of get clay everywhere. They got the donation boxes in the locker rooms, so a lot of guys at the end of the tournaments -- pretty much every week the guys are throwing shoes in the donation box. We're fortunate enough we get a bunch of them. I'm not going to take a couple pairs of dirty clay court shoes home with my since I am probably not going to play on clay until next year in Houston. So probably get a few more pairs before then.

Q. How many do you go through in a tournament?
STEVE JOHNSON: I mean, clay is a little different because the wear is and tear is a bit softer. I think in Australia going through three rounds this year I probably went through four pairs of shoes just in those three matches. So on the clay I've gone through one in the first two days, but I'll probably use a new pair against Stan. A lot of equipment changes.

Q. Do you go to a lot of tournaments that they have a donation box?
STEVE JOHNSON: Yeah. I think a lot of them do. The guys in the back counter helping out in the locker room, you know, you just kind of get a big pile of shoes and they kind of do what they want with it. It's one of those things where usually the shoes sometimes we're throwing out are not dead. They still got a lot of wear in them. Maybe they're just slick or got a couple holes in them. Just one of those things. It's better just to hopefully give them away and let somebody else get a lot more use out of them then you will.

Q. For clothes, too?
STEVE JOHNSON: No. Clothes for me, no, I just sh them and keep using them. Make sure they're clean.
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