Johnson vs. Federer: The Last Match Johnson's Dad Saw Live
ATP Masters 1000 events have provided a plethora of memories for American Steve Johnson. The right-hander played one of his most memorable matches at a Masters 1000 event in 2017; that same year, he became the top American with a win at the level; and his favourite tournament of all-time is a Masters 1000 event. Johnson, who beat compatriot Taylor Fritz on Friday at the BNP Paribas Open, talked all things Masters 1000 with ATPTour.com.
Which ATP Masters 1000 host city is your favourite and why?
Indian Wells, without a doubt. That's like my home tournament, being from LA and Orange County, I get a lot of friends and family who get to come out. Hands down, I wish I could play every week there... I've been going there since I was a kid, as a spectator many times, more than I can remember... I'm super happy to always get back there.
What's your favourite memory from Indian Wells?
I get a chance to play in front of friends and family; they get a chance to see what I do one week out of the year. It's fun to look up in the stands sometimes and see your grandparents and your cousins and parents, and people who watch from afar and have always supported you and now get a chance to be there in person. It really is a blast.
What is your favourite off-court memory at a Masters 1000?
As much golf as I can get in at Indian Wells. I love to play golf so on the off days or the late afternoons, after practice gets over, we'll go out and play some golf, just to get away from tennis, have some fun and spend some time with coaches, family. It's definitely one of my favourite memories.
I've never had a chance to play with [tournament owner] Larry [Ellison]. I know he's got his private course there, so one day hopefully I'd love to get the chance to play there and see what it's all about.
What do you consider to be your best Masters 1000 win?
Beating Tsonga in Cincinnati, 2016, [6-3, 7-6(6)]. With that win I was able to become the top American for the first time so that was definitely an emotional win. For me, I can still remember to this day how that end of the tie-break went. I was very happy to be in that situation, very proud to have gotten to No. 1 in the States.
I was down set points, hit a great, not a return winner, but close to it, down 6/5, played another good return point at 6/6 on Jo's serve, and then I remember I hit a good serve and a good forehand winner to close out the match. Couldn't have been happier, and I was relieved and just happy to have that moment and to make my first quarter-finals at a Masters 1000 event as well.
Read More: Johnson Becomes Top American In ATP Rankings
What is your dream match at a Masters 1000. Who would you play and at which tournament?
I think I've already done it – I played Roger at Indian Wells on centre court in 2017. I lost a tough 6 and 6 match. I was very happy with my performance, but really thought I was close to maybe getting a chance to win that match, change a few points here and there. But I had such a blast playing one of the greatest of all-time, if not the best of all-time, in one of my favourite stadiums.
What was that like?
It was such a cool experience to look up, and I saw my family was there. Unfortunately, it was the last match my dad got to watch me play live. It's always going to have an extremely special memory in my heart.
Which player/champion would you consider to be the toughest competitor in Masters 1000 history?
I've played a lot of tough guys at the top. I've played Roger, I've played Rafa in Madrid. Neither one of those guys are particularly easy to game plan for and to prepare for. But I had a blast against both of them and would love to get another crack at some of these guys at some of the Masters. Hopefully I could flip the script a little bit and come out a winner.
What's the toughest part about the Masters 1000 events?
The draw. Most of the tournaments are a tough draw with only a few byes, so you could be playing a guy, No. 10, No. 15 in the world in the first round. So it's tough matches everywhere you look, on all the courts, and I think that's what adds to some of the excitement of the events, just having great first-round matches.