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McEnroe reaches Delray ITC finals after rain-delayed match

Mats Wilander digs to return a shot from Pat Cash Saturday afternoon at the Delray Beach ITC. Wilander won the match but was eliminated from the finals by John McEnroe Saturday night.

By Palm Beach

DELRAY BEACH — It was the kind of day that had a struggling Pat Cash ceding his racket to a fan in his match against Mats Wilander and John McEnroe climbing the walls, literally, while joking with the fans, his opponent (also Wilander) and the officials.

And a storm knocked out lights, leaving everyone in the dark for a few minutes, while delaying Saturday’s the final match at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships for about two-and-a-half hours.

At the end of the day, Cash lost to Wilander, 3-6, 3-6, and was eliminated from Champions tour play, while McEnroe defeated Wilander 8-5 in pro-set scoring seven hours later to earn a spot in the final against defending champion, Carlos Moya.

That match begins after 3 p.m. Sunday.

Also Saturday, Boca Raton resident Aaron Krickstein defeated Mark Philippoussis, the 2011 champion, 6-4, 6-4 and will play Wilander for third place.

Afterward, McEnroe was asked about the match-up with Moya, and the first thing he mentioned was the age difference. McEnroe is 54, while Moya is 36.  Moya easily defeated Ivan Lendl a year ago to win the Delray tournament.

“He’s incredibly athletic and a big guy,” McEnroe said. “Basically, you try to keep points short. If I serve like I did tonight, I have a hope of keeping the match close.”

McEnroe twice acknowledged the fans who stayed to watch the final match of the evening despite the long delay. He joked about his age, telling Wilander that he dyed his hair gray so that he would appear much older than he really is.

After setting Wilander up for a smash, McEnroe immediately ran to the rear wall and started climbing in anticipation. After the point, he asked the chair umpire for a let, saying the wall was wet and he wasn’t able to climb as high as usual.

He even did a little dance as he left the court.

“We appreciate very much the people who hung around here through the rain,” McEnroe told the crowd.

While it wasn’t a good day for Cash, it was great day for Nick Vamvalis, the fan who unexpectedly got a chance to play if only briefly against Wilander. Vamvalis was sitting in the Porsche that’s parked in the northwest corner of the stadium when Cash walked over to him and handed him his racket. Vamvalis didn’t win the point but he was able to volley with Wilander for a while.

“It was larger than life out there,” Vamvalis said. “All I wanted was the rally to go on as long as possible.”

Notes: The presentation of Wilander’s International Tennis Hall of Fame ring scheduled to take place before his match with McEnroe was a casualty of the storm.  Officials of the Hall were on hand for the ceremony. Wilander was inducted into the Hall in 2002 but the Hall rings were introduced two years ago … American John Isner, last year’s No. 1 seed in the World Tour portion of the Delray ITC, again earned the top spot this year. Mardy Fish in 2009 is the only No. 1 seed in tournament history to win the Delray ITC. Kevin Anderson of South Africa, the ITC’s defending champion is seeded sixth.

John McEnroe climbing the back wall Saturday night.

John McEnroe climbing the back wall Saturday night.


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