3/3/13 5:02 AM | Ricky Dimon
The top two seeds tumble on Saturday in Delray Beach. After Ernests Gulbis took out Tommy Haas, Edouard-Roger Vasselin upset John Isner in the nightcap.
A tournament full of surprises saw its biggest one on Saturday night, when Edouard Roger-Vasselin defeated John Isner 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the semifinals of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships. Roger-Vasselin converted three of 14 break points and withstood 21 Isner aces to advance after two hours and eight minutes.
Playing in his first career ATP semifinal after five previous setbacks at the quarterfinal stage, Roger-Vasselin came out firing without any semblance of nerves. The Frenchman broke Isner in the very first game of the match with a perfect backhand passing shot. Roger-Vasselin never came close to giving it back, as he dropped a mere five service points in the entire opening set.
For a while it looked like the underdog was on his way to a surprisingly routine straight-set win. Roger-Vasselin earned another scalp of the Isner serve at 1-1 in the second with a backhand pass off the net-cord, to which the No. 1 seed responded by blasting a ball out of the stadium. With the title match in sight, however, Roger-Vasselin got tight. The world No. 105 double-faulted on break point at 4-3 then donated serve for a second straight time by netting a backhand on set point at 4-5.
But a trend of back-and-forth matches this week in Delray Beach was not about to end. Roger-Vasselin recovered right away by breaking to begin the third, this time with a well-placed forehand approach shot. He made it stand up by saving four break points at 1-0, one more at 2-1 after Isner served five consecutive aces at 0-1, and he survived another deuce game at 3-2. Ultimately the set progressed in the exact same fashion, with Roger-Vasselin consolidating the immediate break. An easy serving hold at 5-4 wrapped up the proceedings and polished off the upset in style.
Roger-Vasselin will contest his first ATP final on Sunday afternoon against Ernests Gulbis. The Latvian qualifier, who outlasted Tommy Haas in a third-set tiebreaker, is looking for his third ATP title and his second in Delray Beach.
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