The final of Delray Beach will be contested by two players outside the top 100 after Ernests Gulbis and Edouard Roger-Vasselin came through in three sets against Tommy Haas and John Isner respectively.
A battle between two former winners would go to the wire here. Gulbis (2010) needed a third set tie break to beat the 2010 winner Haas but needed some good fortune late on to make it there. Gulbis started well and took the first set thanks to a couple of breaks, the second of which as Haas served to stay in the set.
His level dipped somewhat in the second set and would be punished for it as he went down a break early on. After facing no break points in set 1, he would face four more in the next two service games as he was broken once more as Haas took a 5-2 lead. The double break would come in handy as the German failed to serve it out at the first time of asking, but did so next time round to take the set 6-4.
Haas held comfortably for all of the third set and will be ruing missed opportunities late on with five break points going unconverted at 4-4 and 5-5. After Gulbis saved two from 0-40, a smash putaway looked a gimme for Haas to finally get the break but he would hit the netcord which pushed it out for deuce. Gulbis held to guarantee at least a tie break, which Haas would confirm with another easy hold After showing incredible hustle to get an early mini break, Gulbis rode the advantage all the way to the end to seal a 6-3 4-6 7-6(2) victory.
Isner had looked vulnerable for most of the week and was finally put to the sword by Roger-Vasselin but it took much longer than it really should have done for the Frenchman who finally won 6-4 4-6 6-4. A break in the opening game of the match was enough for Roger-Vasselin who dropped just five points on serve in what was a very comfortable first set. He had opportunities to take a second break but would fail to convert a 15-40, a theme that would continue throughout the match although ultimately did not prove to be fatal.
With Isner manufacturing very little on return, Roger-Vasselin’s early break looked to have been enough to close the match – especially when he then moved to 15-40 on the next Isner service game but would see five break points not taken. By staying in touch, Isner kept the pressure on the Frenchman who had never made an ATP final before and it told as he served at 4-3. Down 30-40, Roger-Vasselin served a double fault as the set went back on serve. From 0-15 and 15-30 in the following service game, Isner held and would then go on to break for the second time running to take the set and force a decider.
The momentum seemed all with Isner as he served first in the final set but it would all switch back as he dropped serve to open a set for the second time in the match. He had four opportunities to break immediately back but Roger-Vasselin held his nerve to open up a 2-0 lead and when he opened up a 0-40 on the next Isner game, they felt like ‘virtual’ match points. Even when out of form, Isner has the ability to remove 0-40 deficits very quickly with the help of that big serve and he did just that to hold. Isner had the opportunity to get back on serve again at 1-2 but would fail to do so. He saw no more opportunities from that point onwards as a Roger-Vasselin settled his nerve and closed out the match with relative comfort dropped just one point on his last two service games.
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