David Ferrer and Steve Johnson battled in the 2015 final in Vienna, Austria.

After an inconsistent 2014 by his standards, David Ferrer got off to a perfect start in 2015 by winning his first event of the year in Qatar. Back-to-back titles in Brazil and Mexico soon followed, but a late-season elbow injury caused him to miss Wimbledon and the summer hard-court stretch leading up to the US Open. In New York, the Spaniard fell in the third round, but rebounded from that with two wins in Davis Cup, then a fourth title of the year in Kuala Lumpur.

His winning streak ended in the semifinals in Beijing, then he lost his opening match in Shanghai. Making a return to the indoor tournament in Vienna, where he finished as the runner-up in 2014, the top-seeded Ferrer reached the final once again, only dropping one set along the way. In the championship match, he’d face the unseeded American Steve Johnson. The world No. 47 battled through three-setters in his first three matches, including an upset over the second seed Kevin Anderson, to reach the first final of his career.


Return Winners:
The 2015 Vienna

Return Winners: The 2015 Vienna final

Going into the match, the gap in experience could hardly have been wider: Ferrer was playing for a title for the 51st time. However, it was Johnson who got off to a near-perfect start with an early break and took a 3-0 lead. Ferrer managed to get the set back on serve, but was broken again at 4-5 to clinch the opener for the American.

In the second set, Ferrer jumped out in front and eventually closed it out, 6-4, to force a deciding set. Johnson—who battled in many pressure-packed situations as one of the greatest players to ever come out of college—kept pace with the top seed in the final set. With the two remaining on serve throughout the final frame, Ferrer held to 5-5, then broke Johnson to serve for the title. Up 40-0, the world No. 8 clinched victory behind a backhand error from his opponent, giving him a career-best fifth title in one year.


Ferrer became only the second Spaniard to win the tournament, following Feliciano Lopez’s triumph in 2004.


This was the third 500-level title of the year for Ferrer—with all of them coming under different playing conditions. His other two came on clay at the Rio Open in Brazil and on outdoor hard courts at the Mexican Open.


The last time an American reached the final before Johnson’s run was in 1998, when Pete Sampras won the tournament in his only appearance there.