An interview with: STEVE JOHNSON
Friday, August 31, 2012
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. So what's it feel like?
STEVE JOHNSON: Feels pretty good. All the hard work I put in since last year losing in five sets really has paid off. I'm very happy to see that it has paid off.
Q. Did you envisage this sort of success at the start of the week?
STEVE JOHNSON: Yeah, you always come out here thinking you're going to win. I had a great couple of weeks leading up to the Open. You know, got a lot of the nerves out in the first round against Rajeev and kind of settled down today as well and was able to play really good tennis.
Q. Talk about your run at Aptos. Obviously you had tremendous success in the collegiate arena, but was that significant?
STEVE JOHNSON: Yeah, kind of coming out of school I took some time off and then kind of came straightaway and played few of the ATP main draws. Didn't quite feel comfortable out there playing. It was still new to me. Kind of went back to Aptos and got a few matches under my belt. It's good, because I got to play five matches in a week and I really kept building on each one.
Q. Do you have any pressure to sort of fill a vacuum in your generation of good Americans?
STEVE JOHNSON: No, I think there's a ton of Americans that are going to come up and do big things. Shouldn't fall on any one person's shoulders. Andy had to deal with it for so long. This is too bad this is going to be his last week. There are so many good young Americans. Mardy and John and all those guys, they're doing just fine.
Q. Do you think it helps having a group from the same country sort of in friendly competition? I have seen it in Spain and France. Do you think that's beneficial to everybody?
STEVE JOHNSON: Yeah, I think so. To have the American guys push each other and get better every day is the goal. You know, to have so many players around is really kind of a bonus for us.
Q. Not too many players I know anyway go from NCAA team champions, singles champion, et cetera, to the ATP Tour, like LA, to a challenger and then here. Can you just talk about the different venues, the different pressures you feel in those different sites?
STEVE JOHNSON: You know, I think in the first couple weeks when I played the ATP events I felt a little more pressure just because I had come off a great college season and hadn't lost in a while. I felt like I was ready to go out there win, but I just didn't feel quite comfortable with the surroundings and made a good move to go back and play Aptos instead of Cincinnati and got a bunch of matches in and had a nice week to train back at home with the USTA and came here. I think everything has worked out pretty well.
Q. As you get deeper into the tournament in the level of the opponents to rise, what do you have to do better on the court to keep winning?
STEVE JOHNSON: I think I have played pretty well today, and I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing. Just going to try and stay calm. It's my second Grand Slam and I'm in the third round. Just kind of deal with it at the moment and kind of deal with it as it comes.
Q. Next is Gasquet, a former top 10 guy. Any game plan?
STEVE JOHNSON: Not yet. I was kind of hoping I'd play Bradley just because we have played so many times in our life. But, you know, he's a great player. I'm sure somebody will have a good game plan for me and I will go out there give it my best.
Q. Any gimmicks or anything to sell yourself in the bigger surroundings, or do you just kind of take it in and then just play tennis?
STEVE JOHNSON: I just kind of take it in. Nice thing about being here is there are a lot of American fans. They're all kind of behind you. That's what it felt like. Towards the end I just took a bunch of deep breaths and kind of did what I did best and, you know, that's worked out.
Q. Do you feel that hunger out there for like a really good American? You had a lot of fans behind you.
STEVE JOHNSON: Yeah, that's fun. It kind of felt like, for me, kind of a college atmosphere. The crowd was cheering every point, and I could hear, you know, some of the people close to me in the stands and everything. To know they're all behind me was pretty special.
Q. Some people might dismiss the Aptos win as just a challenger, but Murray, Rafter, Bob Bryan all won there. How important is it to get a W to go through a tournament there and come out the winner?
STEVE JOHNSON: I think it's very important. You know, one guy wins every week. So, you know, to go out there and be the guy who wins is pretty important. To put it on the line in the finals and the semis, I played some really good tennis out there, and that was the goal.
Q. I apologize, but when I mention the name Pancho Segura, what does that mean to you?
STEVE JOHNSON: He's a legend. He's up on the walls at the school and everything. You know, he's done a lot for the game. You know, I don't know him personally, but, you know, I know kind of a little bit of his background. You know, I have met him a couple of times, but not too familiar with him.
Q. Were you aware that you shared a collegiate record with him winning the NCAAs three times?
STEVE JOHNSON: I did not know that. Yeah. I think so.
Q. What do you see as sort of the weak points of your game?
STEVE JOHNSON: I think just right now it's just my inexperience of being on the tour, I think. I think I'm going to ‑‑ through the rest of the year it's going to be a really good test to go out there and get out there and get a bunch of wins and to get comfortable again. It's a new environment. You're traveling on your own. It's just something to get used to.
Q. What has Peter Smith said to you earlier in the summer and through the summer? I know he came to see some of your matches in California, but what advice has he given you on the transition?
STEVE JOHNSON: I mean, Peter is very big reason why I'm here today. I have spent pretty much every day with him for the last four or five years. He's somebody I call all the time. I texted him before the match today. I was pretty nervous, and he kind of calmed me down. That's kind of the power he has. You know, it's good to have that voice back home where you can call and he can tell you everything's going to be okay. He knows me better than a lot of people do. It's very important to me to have him close to my game.
Q. What is your residential situation? Do you have an interesting roommate?
STEVE JOHNSON: I'm currently homeless, so it's an interesting situation. No, I'm actually living with Brad Klahn. We're finding a place at some point in the next few weeks before we go home. It's in LA, so we'll be both based out of Carson and the USTA training center there. I think it's going to be great. Bradley and I have gone way back. To have, you know, both of us live in the same place, we can kind of push each other to go up there and do big things.