24 Feb Cilic Comes Up Big
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Cilic Comes Up Big
Battle With Anderson Longest Match in Delray Beach History
By STEVE DORSEY
Marin Cilic said he’s going to take a little time to relax the next couple of days. The 25-year-old Croatian certainly deserves it.
Cilic continued his hot run of success Sunday when he defeated Kevin Anderson in a marathon three-setter to capture the singles title of the ATP World Tour Delray Beach Open.
Cilic’s 7-6(6), 6-7(7), 6-4 win over Kevin Anderson is his second ATP World Tour title in three weeks and gives him a tour-leading 18 match wins this season. It’s his third win in four matches against Anderson, who won the Delray Beach title in 2012.
The victory also will move up Cilic, who entered this week at No. 29 in the ATP rankings, about four spots in the world.
The championship match took a tournament-record 3 hours, 8 minutes to decide a winner, included six match points and was the first time in the event’s 22-year history that two sets went to tiebreakers in the final. It was the first time this week that Cilic, who was the No. 7 seed, was extended to three sets. His semifinal win against John Isner started late Saturday night and ended shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday, and he said he had about six hours of sleep.
“These three weeks have been very long for me,” said Cilic, who collected his 10th ATP career title two weeks ago in Zagreb and was runner-up last week in Rotterdam. “I’m going to enjoy it for a while and have a little rest.”
Anderson was bidding for his second title at Delray Beach. The lanky South African who last year moved to Delray Beach registered 18 aces against Cilic, but 12 double faults did not help his cause.
“I just didn’t put down the clamps to give myself some more chances,” said Anderson, who entered the week ranked No. 21 in the world and was the No. 4 seed here. “I was a bit too patchy today, but I’m happy making the finals.”
Anderson had a 40-love advantage a chance to tie the third set at 5-all with a service break in the 10th game. But Cilic, with his coach Goran Ivanisevic part of the announced crowd of 3,478, fought back to deuce and finally clinched the title on the third match point.
“In this match, there were a lot of ups and downs,” said Cilic, who is the third two-time winner on the ATP World Tour this year. “I should have closed it out in the second set. . . . What was pushing me was in the second set, I started to serve much better. I’m much more positive now that’s what I’ve been looking for.”