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Isner beats Anderson; Semifinals set at Delray Beach ITC

ivan dodigIvan Dodig stretches for the ball in his quarterfinals match Friday against Tommy Haas. Dodig made the shot but lost the match.

By Palm Beach

DELRAY BEACH — There will not be a repeat champion this year at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships.

Top-seed John Isner used a devastating serve and took advantage of Kevin Anderson’s slow start to defeat the defending champion 6-2, 7-6(1) Friday evening at the Delray Beach Tennis Center. There is not been a successful defense of the ITC title since Jason Stoltenberg repeated in 1997  — when the tournament was held in Coral Springs.

Isner will face Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France, who defeated Richardas Berankis of Lithuania 6-4, 6-3 not before 8:30 Saturday evening in a semifinal match. In the other semifinal Saturday, Tommy Haas of Germany, the No. 3 seed, will face qualifier Ernests Gulbis not before 3 p.m. Both Haas and Gulbis are former ITC champions.

Haas beat Ivan Dodig of Croatia 7-6(6), 2-6, 6-1 earlier Friday, while Gulbis beat Daniel Munoz-De La Nava 6-1, 6-4.

But the Isner-Anderson match was the most anticipated of the day, since it was Anderson who knocked Isner out of the 2012 ITC semifinals.

The key for Isner on this cool South Florida night was his serve. Both players possess powerful serves, but Anderson is coming back from surgery to remove loose bone chips from his right elbow January, and the effects showed during the match.

Unofficially, Isner had 18 aces to Anderson’s five.

“I can’t serve any better than I did in the tiebreaker,” Isner said afterward.

Notes: Through six days of play, there have been101 line calls challenges; the Hawk-Eye challenge system, in use for the first time in Delray Beach, has upheld the officials on all but 18 calls. … While there won’t be a repeat champion, Isner still has a chance to become only the second top seed to win the tournament. Mardy Fish of Vero Beach did it in 2009.

Saturday’s Schedule:

— 1 p.m. doubles semifinal: Max Mirnyi / Horia Tecau vs Johan Brunstrom / Raven Klaasen.

— Not before 3 p.m. singles semifinal: Ernests Gulbis vs Tommy Haas.    

— 6:30 p.m. doubles semifinal: James Blake / Jack Sock vs Dustin Brown / Christopher Kas.

— Not Before 8:30 p.m.: John Isner vs Edouard Roger-Vasselin. 


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