SARASOTA — Daniel Elahi Galan played in the Sarasota Open for the first time in 2016. He turned in a truly forgettable performance, getting knocked out in the first round of the qualifying tournament.
At the 2022 edition of the Elizabeth Moore Sarasota Open, the 25-year-old Colombian turned things around completely and walked away with the crown and the top prize of $14,400 at the ATP Challenger Tour event.
Galan took control in the third set of a 2½-hour final on Sunday against Steve Johnson, 32, of Orange, California, to win 7-6 (7), 4-6, 6-1 on the clay at the Payne Park Tennis Center.
However, when Johnson went for the three-peat in Houston in 2019, it was Galan who blocked Johnson’s path in the quarterfinal round.
“He was tougher this time around,” Galan said. “The other time was a two-setter. He was serving huge today.”
Galan had his own great day serving by notching a total of 16 aces. It was his fourth victory on the ATP Challenger Tour.
Johnson will go down in history as one of the greatest college tennis players ever. From 2009-2012 he was a member of USC team that won four straight NCAA tennis championships.
Johnson also won the NCAA singles championship in 2011 and 2012. He finished his college career by winning a mind-boggling 72 consecutive singles matches.
“Daniel played a fantastic match,” Johnson said. “I had a very good week. But I just came up a little bit short.”
The two finalists played a 72-minute first set, where each player held serve throughout. Tied at 6-6, it came down to Galan holding on to win a 9-7 tiebreaker.
“It was a close match and could have gone to either one of us,” Galan said. “I returned much better in the third set than I did in the other two sets. When I had the opportunities, I took them.”
The No. 4-seeded Galan defeated Alejandro Tabilo of Chile 7-6, 6-1 in the semifinal round after winning by walkover against Bulgaria’s Adrian Andreev in the quarterfinals. Galan topped Australia’s Jason Kubler 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in the Round of 16 and another Aussie, Max Purcell, 7-5, 7-6 in the first round.
Johnson, seeded No. 5 at the Sarasota Open, knocked out the tournament’s top seed, Denis Kudla, 6-2, 7-5 in the semifinals after defeating Mitchell Krueger 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 in the quarters. He beat Japan’s Yosuke Watanuki 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the Round of 16 and recorded a 6-3, 6-4 first-round victory over Andrea Collarni of Argentina.
“I definitely got some nice points here in Sarasota,” Galan said. “It’s always a nice way to end the week with a trophy like this one. I hope I can continue on like this.”
-Credit to Jim Brockman, The Herald Tribune, (https://www.heraldtribune.com/story/sports/2022/04/18/colombias-galan-grabs-sarasota-open-title-and-top-prize-14-400/7340043001/)