Steve Johnson - US Open 2019 and Andy Murray - Shanghai Masters 2023

Andy Murray pays tribute to ‘great’ former Olympic medallist after announcing retirement

Andy Murray has paid tribute to former world No.21 Steve Johnson, after the American announced that he would be retiring at Indian Wells.

Johnson played his final career singles match in Indian Wells qualifying, losing to Emilio Nava despite having six match points.

The 34-year-old subsequently confirmed that he would be retiring at Indian Wells, with the Californian still to play doubles alongside Tommy Paul after receiving a wildcard.

When speaking to the ATP, Californian-born Johnson revealed why he wanted to retire at Indian Wells, “For me it’s just the culmination of everything that’s been basically my life, tennis itself, for multiple decades.”

Johnson continued, “To have [my family] here, this is why this venue and this event is so special to me. I grew up coming here as a kid with my dad and family every year. To see how it’s grown and see everything that this event has turned into, from where it started, this has always been my favourite place to be.

“There was no other place that I really wanted my last tournament to be. It was here, and I’m very fortunate that I was able to make that a reality.”

Johnson won a total of four ATP titles, on clay and grass courts, and reached a career-high ranking of world No.21 back in 2016.

The American also managed to claim an Olympic medal that year in Rio de Janeiro, winning a bronze in doubles alongside Jack Sock.

However, in recent years injury has played a big part in Johnson’s career, with a knee injury forcing him to fall outside the world’s top 240.

Johnson revealed that this was a big indicator that it was time to call it a day on his career, “That started to take a toll, because I couldn’t do what I needed to do to be the player that I wanted to be, so that made it hard.

“I enjoy the chaos that life brings with two kids and being home and I found especially at the end of last year, I really didn’t enjoy being on the road, playing tournaments. I did it, but my mind wasn’t there.”

He concluded, “I knew that was a pretty big sign. I’ve not wanted to be somebody who limped across the finish line, I wanted to walk across. Some guys like to play until the wheels fall off and I have a lot of respect for that. But for me, I was ready to be done, so we’ll see what the next chapter holds.”

Johnson has received many tributes from his colleagues including Murray on social media, who still managed to get a jibe in about the Californian’s moustache, “All the best with whatever is next Stevie. Excellent career. A great guy to have around on the tour for a long time and a top competitor! Shocking moustache.”

It is not the end just yet for Johnson, who will play doubles with the aforementioned Paul at Indian Wells, as they take on Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic in the first round.

Inside the baseline…

It is always sad when injuries play a part in someone calling an end to their career, but it does feel as though Steve Johnson is taking ownership and doing it on his own terms. Although Johnson is not one of the bigger names on the ATP Tour, he has had a very successful career and it is clear to see how respected the American is by his peers. Hopefully Johnson can enjoy the last professional match of his career with the support of the home Californian crowd.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.