Eric J. Russell, special to WTOP
WASHINGTON - Prior to Sunday's Citi Open championship match, neither Tommy Haas nor Alexandr Dolgopolov had dropped a set during the tournament.
The first-ever encounter between the two turned out to be an intense three-set match. Second-seeded Dolgopolov beat No. 4 seed Haas 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-1 in a contest that ended more than five hours after it began.
Dolgopolov, a 23 year-old Ukraine native, appeared frustrated after the first set but battled back. The win was his first title of the year and the second of his career.
The two were in the midst of a tight battle in the first set as play was halted for more than two hours due to rain. When play was suspended, Haas had a 6-5 lead in the set. Dolgopolov came out and won the next game to force a tiebreak.
Knotted at seven in the tiebreaker, Dolgopolov came up to the net but let Haas' return sail past him, thinking it was out. The shot hit the line and gave Haas an advantage.
Dolgopolov found it difficult to come back after the delays.
"It was a bit tough because twice we went off court before my serve," Dolgopolov said.
The second set was as closely contested as the first. Haas was able to save four of five break points, but the one he failed to save proved to be costly, and he dropped his first set of the tournament.
Haas admitted that once he lost the second set his mental state changed.
"When I lost the second set I think I cracked a bit mentally," Haas said. "I made a few bad decisions and was running behind the break."
Early in the third set, Haas seemed dismayed by the conditions of the playing surface and even complained to the chair umpire.
Dolgopolov seized that opportunity. He said he could sense Haas was giving away more points then he had been.
"He helped me a bit in the last game of the second set ," Dolgopolov said. "Then third set he was a bit frustrated so it was really good that I got the advantage in the start of the set."
After the match, Haas said rain and delays were no excuse because Dolgopolov was playing under the same conditions.
Dolgopolov said his main goal was to get some points to regain a spot in the Top 20 of the ATP rankings. The ATP Tour's next stop on the U.S Open Series is Toronto for the Rogers Cup.
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