Anderson reaches Delray Open final

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iol spt feb23 Anderson-file AP Kevin Anderson will face Marin Cillic in the final of the Delray Beach Open after beating qualifier Steve Johnson in semifinals. Photo by: Aaron Favila

DELRAY BEACH, Florida – Marin Cilic continued his mastery against American players, beating John Isner 7-6 (5), 6-3 to advance to the finals of the Delray Beach Open.

The victory was Cilic's 21st straight against American opponents dating to 2008.

The seventh-seeded Croat has reached three straight finals for the first time in his career. He beat Tommy Haas to win at Zagreb earlier this month, and then lost to Tomas Berdych at Rotterdam last week.

“It's probably the best three weeks I've played in my life,” said Cilic, who reached his 20th career ATP final. “I couldn't be happier. I'm enjoying these moments.”

Isner, the second seed, was trying to reach his second final of the year. He won the title in Auckland in January.

The start of the night match was delayed nearly three hours because of rain, not finishing until the early morning Sunday.

Cilic will face Kevin Anderson of South Africa in the final. The fourth-seeded Anderson, who won this event in 2012, advanced with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over American qualifier Steve Johnson in the earlier semifinal.

Anderson had 13 aces and won 86 percent of his first-serve points.

“I'm pleased with the way I executed that part of my game,” said Anderson, who has a 7-2 record this year. He was 0-3 in finals last year.

Johnson admitted having some nerves playing in his first ATP semifinal. The American had beaten the top-seeded Haas and sixth-seeded Feliciano Lopez to reach the semis.

“I definitely was a little uptight in the beginning, but credit (Anderson). He played very well,” Johnson said. – Sapa-AP

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