It’s time to make Stevie Johnson love New York.
When asked if he likes it here in our fair city after his straight sets win over Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, 6-4 7-6 (2) 7-6 (5), he was pretty clear about it.
“Yes and no. I’m not a big New York fan,” he said.
Okay, the 27 year-old can get a pass on this as he s from Southern California and “is a bit more laid off, a bit more peaceful.”
The hustle and bustle of the city is something that doesn’t appeal to the American journeyman, who is fighting for a position at this year’s wide open US Open.
“Here everybody seems to be in a hurry, which is fine,” Johnson said. “I enjoy the excitement and the buzz for this couple of weeks. I don’t know if I could live in Manhattan year round and do it — I don’t know, like, a lot of my college friends have done it and have loved it. I don’t know if I’d be the same way.”
That’s okay, because New York is not for everyone and if Johnson happens to make some noise at this year’s tournament, then all will be forgiven.
Of course, there’s another reason why Johnson may not love New York. He doesn’t do that well here. Unlike the other slams, Johnson made the third round once back in 2012 and won a round last year after three first round exits.
So, he would like to change that this year and part of it managing his emotions and not letting bad breaks get to him.
“I know they’re going to be there, but, you know, kind of be practical about them, you know, don’t let, you know, the highs, you know, take you or the lows take you,” Johnson said. “Because those thoughts come and, you know, I’m guessing it will get easier. I don’t know if they will ever go away, but it’s just something that I’m trying my best to, you know, deal with day by day.
“You know, the more matches I play, the easier I think, I mean, I hope it’s going to get. And some days it just is a bit easier than others.”
Today was one of those days as Johnson was able to win two straight tiebreakers and close out his Spanish opponent. He was able to stay within his emotions and deal with long rallies, something that he has some problems with in the past.
“I’m still going to play the way I played,” Johnson said. “You don’t overhaul your game, you know. You do what you do and you just keep doing it better and better and you work on your strengths and weaknesses and everything.
“But being in better shape, being fitter, it just gives you another tool to hopefully, if the day is not going so well tennis-wise, it gives you that luxury of, okay, you know, I can maybe not go for as much, play longer rallies, kind of find my way back into the match and feel comfortable doing that.”
So, it’s onto the next round and Britain’s Kyle Edmond, who beat No. 32 seed Robin Haase today in straight sets, 6-3 7-5 6-3.
Win that and Johnson may have something special here. Make it to next week and New York will love you, no matter what you think about the city.