In just three sets, Austria’s Dominic Thiem swept Steve Johnson Jr., the American tennis player who won the hearts of fans across the world after his emotional reaction to his second-round win in the French Open.
Johnson previously defeated Borna Coric in his last match and offered an emotional interview where he paid tribune to father, a tennis staple in California who passed away just a few weeks before the tournament.
Two days after his win, Johnson faced the No. 6-ranked Austrian and fell in a lopsided contest that favored Thiem, 6-1, 7-6 (4), 6-3. Yet Thiem, in a gracious moment after the match, made a special effort to compliment the heart and perseverance of his opponent.
“It’s really tragedy what happened. You wish it on nobody. Especially him. He’s a very, very nice guy,” Thiem told reporters. “It was, of course, very emotional for him. It also shows that there are way more important things than tennis. I think it was unbelievably tough for him to even play here.”
Thiem’s win moves him into the fourth round of the French Open and inches him closer to a rematch against Novak Djokovic, the 2016 French Open champion who defeated him in last year’s semifinals.
Johnson, on the other hand, now has time to reflect on his father away from the court. He also commended Thiem for his actions and support and said he wishes the best for Thiem as he continues on in the tournament.
“He’s a standup guy. I’ve always enjoyed practicing with him, playing with him,” Johnson said after the match. “He’s got a very bright future, even though he’s a top-10 guy already and very successful. For him to win this tournament one day is not long off, I don’t think. He’s a great tennis player.”