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Isner Survives Delray Beach Thriller, Cilic Reaches QFs

Delray Beach, U.S.A.

Cilic© CameraSportMarin Cilic claimed his 11th win in 12 matches.

Second seed John Isner survived a tense third-set tie-break against Dudi Sela to reach the quarter-finals of the Delray Beach Open by The Venetian® Las Vegas for the third consecutive year Thursday. Playing his first tournament since retiring from a first-round Australian Open match with a right ankle injury, Isner trailed 2/5 in the ‘breaker. But he held his nerve to win the final five points of the match to close out a 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5) victory.

Isner led 4-1 in the third set before Sela broke in the seventh game. Isner had four match points in the 10th game (at 0-40 and ad out) before Sela came back to hold.

“If I’m up 4-1 in the third set more times than not I close it out 6-3 or whatever,” Isner said. “He got a lot of returns back blocking them back and spun his web on me when we were both on the baseline. It definitely didn’t need to be 7-6 in the third. I had four match points in that 5-4 game. It puts a lot of stress on me playing matches like that but I always seem to do it. But I’m glad to get through. I don’t think I have lost a three-set match this year and I’m proud of that.”

Isner, who also rallied from a set down to beat Michael Russell in the first round, is now 5-0 in deciding third sets this year and 8-2 in tie-breaks.

Seventh seed Marin Cilic powered into the quarter-finals of the Delray Beach Open by The Venetian® Las Vegas on Thursday with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over American Ryan Harrison. The Croatian won 77 per cent of his service points and broke serve once in each set to prevail in 74 minutes.

"It was another good win,” said Cilic. “It wasn't easy today, a lot of wind. But I was putting the ball in the right places today and I think my serve worked well in the critical moments. That's always important. I'm not thinking about [the run] too much. I just have to focus on the next match. It's new conditions every day and you have to be ready for everything and not take it for granted.”

Cilic has won 10 of his past 11 matches, capturing his 10th ATP World Tour title on home soil in Zagreb two weeks ago (d. Haas) before finishing runner-up last week in Rotterdam (l. to Berdych). The 25 year old will face Teymuraz Gabashvili for a place in the semi-finals. Gabashvili was leading 4-2 when third seed Kei Nishikori was forced to retire from their second-round contest with a left hip injury.

"I had been feeling it before my first match and I played through it," said Nishikori. "But I just couldn't do anything today. It didn't get better. It's going to take some time to recover."

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