Johnson beats Sandgren to defend Houston title

Steve Johnson defends against Tennys Sandgren en route to the Houston title. — AFP

HOUSTON — Sixth seed Steve Johnson beat Tennys Sandgren 7-6(7-2), 2-6 ,6-4 to successfully defend his title in an all-American final at the US Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston on Sunday.

Johnson broke eighth-seeded Sandgren in the ninth game of the third set and then held serve to close out the match at the River Oaks Country Club in two hours 22 minutes.

With the win, world No. 51 Johnson secured his third ATP Tour title and became the first repeat winner of the US Men's Clay Court Championship since Andy Roddick in 2001-2002.

Sandgren, who was appearing in the first ATP singles final of his career, was ready for battle as the Americans each traded a break in a back-and-forth opening set that Johnson ultimately claimed in a tiebreak.

Johnson wobbled at times during the second set as world No. 56 Sandgren fought off each of the seven break points he faced and broke his opponent in the sixth and eighth games to force a decider.

But in the third set Johnson, whose run to the final this week included a quarterfinal win over top seed and world No. 9 John Isner, did not flinch and got the only break he would need in the penultimate game to set up his victory.

Andujar thrashes Edmund

to win Marrakech title

Spain's Pablo Andujar won the Grand Prix Hassan II claycourt title in Marrakech for the third time when he easily beat Britain's Kyle Edmund 6-2, 6-2 on Sunday.

Second seed Edmund was playing in his first ATP Tour final but was no match for Andujar who repeated his triumphs of 2011 and 2012 when the event was staged in Casablanca.

The injury-plagued Andujar became the lowest-ranked ATP title-winner since Australian Lleyton Hewitt won in Adelaide as the world No. 550 in 1998.

Twenty sixth-ranked Edmund's firepower made little impact on the slow surface and he struggled badly on serve, dropping his delivery six times as he slumped to defeat.

Andujar, 32, wrapped up victory in one hour 22 minutes to complete a remarkable return from injury. He was ranked down at 1,824 in February after three elbow operations had threatened his career and arrived in Morocco at 355 having won a Challenger Tour event in Alicante last week.

"I always believed that I could come back, otherwise I wouldn't have tried," Andujar said. "I played very well during the whole match. He attacks a lot and is a very strong player. I was very solid today and I'm very happy about that." — Reuters