3/2/13 11:40 PM | Ricky Dimon
Ernests Gulbis comes back from the brink of defeat to beat Tommy Haas in three sets on Saturday in Delray Beach. Gulbis will go up against either John Isner or Edouard Roger-Vasselin for the title.
Ernests Gulbis won his second third-set tiebreaker in the last three days, outlasting Tommy Haas 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(2) in the semifinals of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships on Saturday. Gulbis fired seven aces, benefited from nine Haas double-faults, and he saved all five of the break points he faced in the deciding set to prevail after two hours and 14 minutes.
Gulbis got off to a fast start by breaking for a 3-2 lead in the first set, which he accomplished with a perfect backhand pass to end a prolonged rally. Haas, who looked dispirited and disinterested throughout the opener, dropped serve again at 3-5 and threw away the set with a netted backhand.
The 34-year-old German woke up for the second and it paid off with his first break of the day at 1-1. Gulbis double-faulted at deuce before some impressive defensive by Haas led to a botched overhead by the 109th-ranked Latvian on break point. An insurance break at 4-2 proved to be necessary because Haas failed to close out the set one game later. On his next chance, however, the No. 2 seed made no mistake at 5-4 to force a decider.
Haas continued to have the upper hand throughout the third, but he could not get over the hump. The world No. 19 missed two break chances starting at 15-40 with Gulbis serving at 4-4. Haas took it one step further in his next return game, leading 0-40. Gulbis, though, won five points in a row--including one at 30-40 on an errant overhead by his opponent--for an improbable hold.
Appropriately, a final tiebreaker had to decide it. Although Gulbis was no means the better the player during the 12 previous games, he caught fire when it mattered most. The qualifier came up with an incredible defensive point for a mini-break at 1-1 and extended his lead to 4-1 on a backhand dropper. Gulbis took care of his two service points starting at 5-2, clinching victory on his first match point when Haas sent a forehand long.
"I'm really happy that I won," said the 2010 Delray Beach champion. "Maybe it wasn't the best day to play tennis (because of the wind), but we showed a good fight. I fought until the last point."
Gulbis awaits either John Isner or Edouard Roger-Vasselin in Sunday's championship.
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