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College Champ Stuns Haas In Delray Beach; Cilic Advances

Delray Beach, U.S.A.

Cilic© CameraSportMarin Cilic is bidding to reach his third final in a row.

American qualifier and World No. 142 Steve Johnson stunned top seed and World No. 12 Tommy Haas in a third-set tie-break to reach the quarter-finals of the Delray Beach Open Thursday. The two-time NCAA singles champion at the University of Southern California, who is coached by Craig Boynton, notched his second career win over a Top 20 player to further build on his best start to an ATP World Tour season.

Haas earned 12 break points but paid the price for converting just three. Johnson, who saved all seven break points he faced in the first set, took advantage of a critical lapse by Haas in the third-set tie-break. Serving at 1/2, Haas double faulted and then sprayed a routine backhand slice wide to fall to 1/4, from where he never recovered.

Johnson advanced through qualifying to reach the Auckland quarter-finals in the second week of the season and in his last outing won the Dallas Challenger for the loss of one set. He has a 4-2 tour-level record this year. He next meets left-handed Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.

“It was a big hold when I was down 40/0 in the first set. In the third set I kept my composure, didn’t give him much and played a great ‘breaker,” Johnson said.  “Tommy is unbelievable player and this is a win I won’t forget.”

“I had a few chances but made too many easy unforced errors,” Haas said. “But he served well and competed hard. I played a poor tie-break. In the first set I had a lot of break points I couldn’t convert and you’re not going to win matches if you do that.”

World No. 29 Marin Cilic kept up his good run of form Wednesday as he made a winning start. The seventh-seeded Croatian dismissed Benjamin Becker 6-1, 6-3 in 55 minutes to reach the second round.

Cilic has won nine of his past 10 matches, winning his 10th ATP World Tour title in Zagreb (d. Haas) before finishing runner-up last week in Rotterdam, where he beat Andy Murray in the quarter-finals before ultimately losing to Tomas Berdych. He goes on to face American Ryan Harrison.

"Today it was gusty with the wind," said Cilic. "He got a break in the second set, but it was a matter of getting the concentration back and playing well like I did in the first set. Obviously, I'm in good form, my confidence is boosted."

Marinko Matosevic advanced to his third quarter-final of the season and next will play fourth seed and former champion Kevin Anderson. Matosevic was leading fellow Australian Lleyton Hewitt 7-6(2) when the former World No. 1 retired with a right shoulder injury.

Hewitt said: "It flared up again yesterday, same as last week in Memphis. It’s frustrating to win the first round and then have it flare up. I'm not 100 percent sure what's wrong with it. I just can't serve. I felt it earlier today and I literally couldn't hit a serve hard."

Fourth seed Kevin Anderson was granted a place in the quarter-finals when Ivo Karlovic retired from their second-round contest due to a stomach virus after just one game. The 27-year-old Anderson, a local resident of Delray Beach, lifted the trophy in 2012 (d. Matosevic).

Sixth seed Feliciano Lopez was made to work hard for his second round win, battling from a set down to defeat Adrian Mannarino 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in one hour and 42 minutes. The Spaniard broke serve three times as he claimed his fifth win of the season.

Bryans Reach Quarters
Top seeds Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan opened their bid for a third Delray Beach title with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Adrian Mannarino and Michael Russell in 40 minutes. The Americans won this ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament in 2009 (d. Melo/Sa) and 2010 (d. Marx/Zelenay). They are coming off a runner-up showing in Memphis (l. to Butorac/Klaasen) last week.

In other first-round action Benjamin Becker and Feliciano Lopez defeated Alex Bogomolov Jr. and Dudi Sela 6-1, 6-4, while Sekou Bangoura and Vahid Mirzadeh upset second seeds and Australian Open finalists Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasen 7-5, 3-6, 10-5.

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