(Reuters) - Marin Cilic’s run of red-hot form continued on Sunday as he beat Kevin Anderson 7-6 6-7 6-4 to win the Delray Beach Open title.
Cilic was playing in his third consecutive final, having lost in Rotterdam last week after winning the title in Zagreb two weeks ago.
The 25-year-old Croat had entered the final having had little time to recover from his semi-final with American John Isner that was not completed until early on Sunday after being delayed for three hours due to rain.
“It feels awesome, especially after waiting for a long time last night and finishing after 1 a.m.,” Cilic told reporters after the three hour, eight minute final - the longest in the tournament’s history.
“It wasn’t easy on my nerves. Luckily I found a way.”
Cilic showed no signs of fatigue as the power-hitting duo went shot for shot before the Croat claimed the first set tie-break 8-6.
Anderson, who served 18 aces to Cilic’s 16, swung back in the second set where he broke the world number 29 early to take a 3-1 advantage before losing the next three games and having to rally to win the tie-break 9-7.
Cilic then fended off four break points in the deciding third set and broke Anderson’s service twice to clinch the title.
“In the third (set), I just didn’t put down the clamps of getting back in the match and giving myself a chance,” south Africa’s Anderson said.
“If I would have capitalized a little more I would have put myself in a better position to win the title.”
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury