A second Delray Beach Open title proved a step too far for top-ranked South African tennis player Kevin Anderson in California on Sunday.
Anderson, was bidding to add the 2014 title to his 2012 victory but came up short against Croatian Marin Cilic.
The seventh-seeded Cilic, topple the fourth-ranked Anderson in three sets 7-6 (8) 6-7 (9) 6-5 to win his second title of the month. He won in Zagreb earlier this month and also reached the final in Rotterdam last week.
He added another title to the Zagreb trophy he claimed earlier this month. He also reached the final in Rotterdam last week.
AFP reports that Cilic needed three hours and eight minutes to claim the victory, which was especially sweet after Saturday’s rain delay saw him start late and labour until the early hours to beat second-seeded John Isner in the semi-finals.
“It feels awesome, especially after waiting for a long time last night and finishing after 1am,” the 29th-ranked Cilic said. “Then, today to come back and win it, I’m really happy with this victory.”
Cilic needed seven match points to snatch the title, firing 16 aces and benefiting from 12 double faults by Anderson. He converted four of his 14 break points and saved 10 of the 13 faced.
After claiming the first set in a tie-break, Cilic was poised to raise the trophy soon after.
However, he was broken while serving for the match at 5-3 in the second set, and dropped his first match point when Anderson belted a backhand winner cross-court a game later.
Anderson would fight back again in the ensuing tie-break, surviving a 4-1 deficit and three more match points to level the match at a set apiece.
After an early exchange of breaks in the third, Cilic gained the decisive break of serve for 3-2 and went on to seal the victory with an ace. “It wasn’t easy for my nerves,” Cilic said.
Anderson was vying to become the fourth player to win in Delray Beach on multiple occasions, after his win in 2012.
“In the third, I just didn’t put down the clamps of getting back in the match and giving myself a chance,” Anderson said. “He was going to take one of his chances. He had a fair amount.”