Grieving 'fighter' Johnson encapsulates sport at its best


The raw emotion and honest words of a grieving Steve Johnson after his second-round victory at the French Open encapsulated the very best of sport.

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had the pulses racing on the show courts at Roland Garros on Wednesday, but it was on Court 6 where the heart strings were tugged.

Johnson's father, Steve senior, died suddenly at the age of 58 only a few weeks before the grand slam in Paris.

The American lost not only his father, but also his mentor, and is understandably still in a state of shock.

Johnson dropped to his knees and sobbed uncontrollably after getting the better of Borna Coric in an almighty tussle on day four as the Croatian repeatedly hammered his racket into the clay.

While Coric was having a meltdown, Johnson's breakdown was melting hearts in the French capital and way beyond.  

The Californian leaned on the net as the tears continued to flow and was unable to keep it together in a live on-court television interview.

It would have been hard to further endear himself to those with sympathy for what he is going through, but he managed it with candid and inspiring words.

The 27-year-old said: "I have no idea what happened after I hit the forehand. I just kind of collapsed and, emotionally, it got the best of me.

"The other days, I was able to kind of get to the locker room and kind of compose myself a little bit. Today was just such an emotional match. A long match. Up and down. Just to get through it was something that I know I'll be very proud of.

"I know it's going to be emotional for quite some time. Who knows how long it'll take? I just know he's with me. He raised me to be a competitor and a fighter to the last point. And that's what I try to do with my tennis.

"I may not be the best tennis player. But there's not going to be a day where I'm just going to let you win. I'm going to try and give it my best."

Johnson can expect plenty of support when he faces Dominic Thiem in round three.