Matosevic advances to Delray Beach final

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 02, 2012
Little-known Marinko Matosevic of Australia reached his first career ATP final, beating Dudi Sela of Israel 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (7) in the semifinals Saturday at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships. The 173rd-ranked Matosevic needed five match points to close out the 2-hour, 54-minute match on a day where a swirling wind didn't help either player. ''I'm very happy but I'm very tired,'' Matosevic said. ''I was just fighting off cramps (hamstring, right wrist and forearm). ... In the humidity I just sweat a lot and cramp. I cramped after my match on Wednesday too.'' He finally won the match on his third match point in the tiebreaker - he double-faulted on the first one at 6-5, and hit the ball into the net at 8-7. Matosevic won when the 75th-ranked Sela netted a backhand. Matosevic, who was cramping after the match, dropped to the ground then got up and was screaming and raising his arm in victory. ''Fighting,'' said Matosevic, when asked what won him the match. ''Just fighting hard and never giving up out there. ... It was just such a roller-coaster out there.'' In the final, he will face the winner of the other semifinal between top-seed John Isner of the United States and seventh seed Kevin Anderson of South Africa. Matosevic has now won 12 straight matches, includes winning the Caloundra Challenger in Australia, and three qualifying and four main draw matches here in Delray Beach. He had two match points on his serve at 5-3 in the third set, but nerves got the better of him and he made four straight errors to lose his serve. They had played three times in the past and Sela won all three of those meetings in three sets. Two of the matches were at Challenger level events and one was here in the first round last year. ''He was leading in the first, second and the third but I thought I played much better except for the important points,'' Sela said. ''It was a matter of who was more lucky in this kind of match and he was more lucky.'' Matosevic said that the two are good friends and he wasn't bothered that Sela left the court before they shook hands because he was sure the Israeli was upset by the loss. In all, there were 26 break point opportunities in the match: Seles broke serve on four of 17 break points and Matosevic broke on four of nine. Matosevic had difficulty dealing with his serve in the wind. ''I couldn't serve today because it was too ridiculously windy,'' Matosevic said. ''I served 12 double faults so when going into the breaker (I knew) it couldn't get any worse.'' Matosevic had a 4-1 lead in the first set but the more experienced Sela worked his way back even, and after trailing 5-4 he won the next three games to take the set. In the second set, Matosevic also had a 4-1 lead and Sela, again, started to fight back. The Israeli was serving to even the score to 5-5 but lost his serve to give Matosevic the second set.
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