USC Trojan grad Steve Johnson had another splendid match, grinding out a four-set victory over Ernests Gulbis, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-4. The match lasted over three hours, but Johnson managed to hold his own in the second-set tiebreak and pulled away from there.
Johnson had trouble with Gulbis's powerful serve (average 123 MPH first serve), as the Latvian poured on 24 aces and won 81% of his first service points. Johnson only had a modest 15 aces, but managed to also win 78% of his first service points while narrowly edging Gulbis on second-serve points won. Johnson won 65% of his net points compared to 54% for Gulbis. In almost every facet of the match, the stats were fairly close, with Gulbis having more winners (49 to 46) and Johnson having more unforced errors (34 to 31)
But the most crucial stat might have been break points. Gulbis failed on all nine of his attempts to take a service point away from Johnson, who converted two of his four opportunities. Gulbis had a backhand unforced error to fall behind 5-3 in the third set, allowing Johnson to serve for the set. Then Johnson broke Gulbis's serve with a backhand winner to go up 4-3 in the fourth set, eventually holding serve from then on to prevail.
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