22 Feb SEMIFINALS SATURDAY
AFTERNOON SINGLES SEMIFINAL:
(Young) American Reaches 2nd ATP Final
By Steve Dorsey
DELRAY BEACH, FL. – Donald Young is one victory away from attaining a dream he has had for many years, and the 25-year-old American will get that opportunity Sunday afternoon when he tries to notch his first ATP World Tour title at the Delray Beach Open.
Young reached his second ATP World Tour final by rallying from a first-set loss to defeat Aussie Bernard Tomic 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 Saturday in the first singles semifinal. Young also beat Tomic in a three-setter last week at Memphis to each his first semifinal this year, and much like last week Young again needed to overcome early struggles in the first set to register a victory.
“I was pretty irritated,” Young said of his play in the first set. “I took a nap before the match and woke up and everything my mom was saying, I was getting mad about. Little things were bothering me. It was just a weird mood I was in. Usually those days don’t turn out really well in the past. Those were pretty bad days, and I’m happy I was able to regroup, focus and come away with a win.”
The last time Young played in an ATP World Tour final, his first, was 2011 when he lost to Andy Murray at Bangkok. Young hopes his second finals appearance will be different from his first four years ago.
“I lost pretty badly,” Young said of his inaugural final, adding that he didn’t think it would take another four years to get another crack at a title. “It’s tough to get to finals. It’s not like it’s something you do every day, but there were other things that I felt were holding me back. It wasn’t just my game. It was about the consistency and mental part and putting together back-to-back matches, so I’m happy I’m able to do that lately. I was so happy to get there (at Bangkok), to be honest. I’m a little more mature.”
That certainly was evident in the second set when Young was staring at the possibility of a straight-sets loss. Young was serving with the set tied 4-4 and facing two break points at 15-40. Young won the next four points, however, to win the game and take a 5-4 lead. Young then broke Tomic to take the set 6-4 and tie the match. It was the fourth time in 2015 that Young has come back from a set down to win a match.
“It was either do or die, or go home, and I really didn’t want to go home yet, not like that, at least,” Young said of what in essence was the turning point of the match. “He missed a backhand return, so I had a little help as well, so it worked in my favor.”
The momentum now in Young’s court, the left-hander who is ranked No. 56 in the world, became more aggressive and grabbed a 3-0 lead in the decisive third set. He again displayed his mettle in a clutch situation when he faced two break points again in the seventh game. And again, Young reeled off four straight points to take a 5-2 lead and command of the match.
Young, who overcame eight double faults, put the final touches on the victory when he broke Tomic, who delivered 13 aces in the match, to clinch a berth in Sunday’s final.
“My goal was to be more aggressive, move forward, not give (Tomic) too much time to start planning his attack because once he gets you on a string of the way he wants you to play it’s tough to get off of it,” Young said. “So that was my game and that’s what I’ve been doing lately, is try to play a little more forward and aggressive and moving toward the net.”
“I should have went after him at 15-40 at 4-all (in second set), but I didn’t do it and that’s why I lost,” Tomic said of the game that arguably was the turning point in the match. “I should have won those points, but that’s tennis. I didn’t play very good and I was still winning. I had my chance. I stayed too defensive and he played three good points, so full credit to him. There were a lot of big points in that third set as well and big points that he played well on.”
Young admitted that he wanted to break Tomic and not have to serve for the match. As for Sunday’s final, he’s just going to try to keep the same mental approach he’s been taking lately.
“I haven’t been here often, but I’ve talked to people who have won and hopefully I can draw on some of that information and strength,” Young said. “Hopefully, I can get my first (ATP title), and I’m really excited to have a chance to compete for one.”
Moving forward, Tomic said his goal is to reach the Top 20 soon in the ATP rankings. “I’m not far away,” Tomic said. “I have to keep working and we’ll see the next few months.”
Young, if he should win the title in Delray Beach, would be the eighth player to win their first title here.
[frame align=”left”][/frame]AFTERNOON DOUBLES SEMIFINAL:
Bryans Reach Fifth Semifinal in Delray Beach
By Ismail Ercan
The first match of the day at the Delray Beach Stadium and Tennis Center saw defending champions and No. 1 seed Bob and Mike Bryan defeat fellow Americans Eric Butorac and Rajeev Ram 4-6, 6-3, 10-4 in an entertaining three-set tiebreaker.
Both teams were hardly strangers to each other, having played each other numerous times over the last few years. Ram, a 2011 Delray Beach doubles champion, most recently faced the Bryan brothers team in a semifinal defeat at the 2014 U.S. Open, while Butorac recorded a straight set victory over the American twins en route to the 2014 Australian Open finals with partner Raven Klaasen.
The match began with a bit of a scare for the Bryans, as Mike tweaked his back early in warm-ups, and quickly took a medical timeout on the first changeover to address the issue.
“I felt a little stab, a little pull during warm-ups,” Mike Bryan said. “It’s mid-back, which is better than lower back. A lot of massage and just treatment really is all that I needed. I took a couple Aleve (during the medical timeout). It started going away at the end just because of anti-inflammatories. It’s not severe and it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Butorac and Ram capitalized on several shaky service games from the Bryans, crucially breaking midway through the first set and holding serve to win the set.
Butorac and Ram continued to apply pressure early in the second set, but the Bryans withstood the barrage, saving four break points throughout their service games. They made their move in the fourth game, breaking Ram’s serve for 3-1, before holding serve to close out the set 6-3.
The 10-point match tiebreaker was decided in the first few points by uncharacteristic errors from the underdogs, notably a double fault by Butorac.
“We just hung in there really,” Bob Bryan said. “They missed a couple (shots) by an inch and we made a couple by an inch. We played some really great points, especially on the pivotal ones in the second, because they (Ram and Butorac) had a lot of great shots and chances.”
The win puts the Bryans into their 155th career final and their fifth at the Delray Beach Open.
[frame align=”left”][/frame]EVENING SINGLES SEMIFINAL
KARLOVIC RETURNS TO DELRAY FINAL
BY STEVE DORSEY
DELRAY BEACH, FL. – It was appropriate that Ivo Karlovic delivered a 128-mph ace on match point Saturday night to clinch a berth in the finals of the ATP World Tour Delray Beach Open.
It was the 6-foot-11 Croatian’s tournament-leading 78th ace this week and closed out a 6-3, 6-4 semifinal win against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino that sent him to the Delray Beach final for the second time. A runner-up here in 2010, Karlovic will attempt to capture his first Delray title and sixth of his career on Sunday afternoon when he faces American Donald Young in an intriguing championship match.
Karlovic, who is No. 29 in the ATP World rankings and the No. 4 seed here, has overpowered his opponents this week with his serve. He has not been broken in 47 games entering Sunday’s final and has saved 12 break points.
Karlovic registered 17 aces and saved five break points against Mannarino, who was denied a shot at his first ATP World Tour title.
“He’s really a tricky guy. I had to be aggressive,” Karlovic said of Mannarino, who is ranked No. 41 in the world. “All in all, it was a good match for me.”
Karlovic and Young have played each other once before, but that was a qualifier won by Karlovic on clay in Houston four years ago. Sunday’s match will be their first on the ATP World Tour and both are playing solid tennis.
“It’s different here,” Karlovic said of the matchup against Young. “He’s improved a lot and he played really good last week (in Memphis), too.”
Karlovic, 35, will have a decisive advantage in experience on Sunday. He will be playing in his 13th ATP World Tour final, while the 25-year-old Young has only one championship match on his resume, and that was four years ago.
“His serve was jumping over the fence,” Young said of his only match against Karlovic in 2011. “Overall, I just want to play my own game (Sunday).”
Dealing with Karlovic’s stellar serving game no doubt will be the biggest challenge for Young.
[frame align=”left”][/frame]EVENING DOUBLES SEMIFINAL
KLAASEN – PAES CONTINUE HOT STREAK TO START 2015
BY ISMAIL ERCAN
Speaking of challenges, Bernard Tomic faced a double whammy Saturday. An hour after falling to Donald Young in the singles semifinals, Tomic returned to stadium court to team up with Serbia’s Victor Troicki in a doubles semifinal against No. 2 seed South African Raven Klaasen and Leander Paes of India.
Father Time has not seemed to adversely affected the 41-year old Paes, as his volleys and reflexes proved too much for the “young boys” on the other side of the net. Klaasen and Paes disposed of the Aussie-Serbia duo 6-4, 6-4.
The newly-formed doubles team already has a title and two finals under their belts in five appearances together to start the 2015 season. They won the Auckland tournament and reached the finals in Chennai, and now Delray Beach.
“We made a late decision to come out to Delray Beach and it’s turned out to be a good decision,” Klaasen said. “We will continue to keep working out, getting better, understanding our roles, and having fun. Delray Beach has been good to us so far.”
They will face twin brothers Bob and Mike Bryan in the finals on Sunday.
Paes praised the play of Klaasen, his new doubles partner since the beginning of the season.
“Every match we just keep getting better,” Paes said. “The fun part about playing with Raven is that he is not only a world class athlete but he is a very intelligent athlete. His presence on the court is just fantastic. I’ve played with a lot of guys who have worked their way into tournaments, worked their way into a season, but this young man has started off out of the gates really quick. And now with every match he is just understanding his role better, he is dominating the court, and he plays with this personality that is both humble and very aggressive. That is exactly what you need in this modern day of tennis.”
Both players said they are looking forward to their first encounter as a team against the Bryan brothers.
“It is always wonderful for the tournament and for us to have the No. 1 and 2 seeds playing in the final,” Paes said. “There’s a lot to expect from the boys and we are going to take it to them. The big points are going to be key to the match. And at the end of the day, in this format, the big points are really where it’s at. There are going to be one, two or three chances in that match and whoever plays those big points really well is going to win it.”
Added Klaasen: “We will come out ready to rumble.”