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September 20, 2017

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Gulbis, Roger-Vasselin in unlikely Delray final

DELRAY BEACH, Florida -- Edouard Roger-Vasselin will meet qualifier Ernests Gulbis in an unlikely final of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships after they beat the top two seeds in Saturday's semifinals.

France's Roger-Vasselin upset top-seeded John Isner 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 while Gulbis edged veteran Tommy Haas 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2).

The 15th-ranked Isner could never find his form against Roger-Vasselin, who was playing in his first career ATP World Tour semifinal. Roger-Vasselin was 0-5 in career quarterfinals. His father, Christophe, was a French Open semifinalist in 1983 and ranked as high as 39th.

"It's a strange feeling because I was not supposed to come here but I got in at the last minute," Roger-Vasselin said. "I couldn't imagine I would be in the final at the end of the week.

"I knew on Friday at 5 o'clock that guys pulled out and that I was in. I was still in France."

Latvia's Gulbis, who won the title here in 2010, moved into a tournament final for the first time since 2011, when he won in Los Angeles.

Gulbis is the fifth qualifier to reach the Delray Beach finals. The others were Marinko Matosevic of Australia (2012), Evgeny Korolev 0f Uzbekistan in 2009, Kei Nishikori of Japan in 2008, Alex Calatrava of Spain in 2000 and Andrew Ilie of Australia in 1998.

Nishikori and Ilie won the titles when they reached the final.

"It is the first outdoor tournament after the indoor season," Gulbis said. "Qualifiers have one small advantage as they've played already three matches while the main draw guys haven't played a match yet.

"That's why there's a lot of upsets here."

It was another chilly day in South Florida and the wind was swirling in the Gulbis-Haas clash. In the third set, as the wind died down, the quality of the tennis picked up.

"The beginning was tough and it's not easy to play in those conditions," Haas said. "When it becomes that windy you're whole game plan, whole mood changes and you have to play different tennis.

"In the third set the wind was much better."

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