1/11/13 6:57 AM | Ricky Dimon
Kevin Anderson outlasts Julien Benneteau in three sets on Friday in Sydney. Anderson saves two match points and awaits either Andreas Seppi or Bernard Tomic in the title match.
Julien Benneteau's first career title will have to wait--again.
Kevin Anderson saved two match points late in the third set before overcoming Benneteau 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(8) in the semifinals of the Apia International on Friday afternoon. Anderson blasted 18 aces and won 80 percent of his first-serve points to advance in two hours and 23 minutes.
The 6'8'' South African donated serve twice in the first set, including at 3-5 to throw away the opener. However, he bounced back in impressive fashion throughout set two. Anderson broke once and dropped a mere four points in five service games.
That set the stage for a dramatic third, in which it was Benneteau's turn to make a recovery. The veteran Frenchman fought back from a break down to level the terms at 4-4. He even earned a match point in the 12th game, but Anderson came up with a brilliant second-serve ace and managed to force a tiebreaker.
The decider saw Anderson seize a 5-2 advantage before Benneteau mounted another charge. They traded clutch saves of match points; Benneteau at 5-6, Anderson at 6-7, and Benneteau at 7-8. Anderson finally pocket a match-point chance on his own serve, and he converted it with a clinching overhead smash.
The world No. 36, who will contest his fourth career ATP final on Saturday (2-1 lifetime record), awaits either Andreas Seppi or Bernard Tomic. Benneteau, meanwhile, will remain 0-7 for his career in ATP title matches.
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