Australian Darren Cahill played as an underdog.
Brad Gilbert played as the hometown boy.Cahill thought Gilbert's chore was more difficult, and maybe it was as Cahill defeated Gilbert 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 Sunday in the championship match of the Volvo-San Francisco tournament. The victory gave Cahill his second singles title in seven years as a professional.
"I know it's hard playing in your hometown," Cahill said. "I haven't won a match in my hometown in six years."
Cahill hadn't won a tournament in nearly three years, either.
"I was very excited ... but today I felt the underdog," Cahill said. "I played my best tennis of the week (in the final), and all the hard work came together. I had all the chances, but he did play well on important points."
But Gilbert lost his cool on the most crucial point of the match.
The match turned after Gilbert blew up over a line call in the 10th game of the third set. Serving at 30-30 down 4-5, Gilbert delivered a first serve that was called wide by the linesperson.
Gilbert screamed, "No. No. God, that was inside the line," then whacked the net with his racket in disgust when it was ruled the call would stand.
"Oh, I was extremely happy," Gilbert said sarcastically. "It was a totally blown call. But it's not why I lost the match. I shouldn't have been in that position. But I wasn't pleased."
Cahill, the sixth seed, then set up match point with a cross-court forehand winner, and took the match with one of his best stands at the net.
The Australian made two great gets, one with a forehand volley, then second with his backhand. On Gilbert's third try at a passing shot, Cahill dumped a backhand volley into the forehand court beyond Gilbert's reach for the victory. "It was an easy shot, but I made it into a difficult shot," Gilbert said of his final passing try.
When his final volley fell for a winner, Cahill thrust his arms in the air in victory.
"This is the highlight of my career right here," said Cahill, who reached the semifinals of the 1988 U.S. Open.
Playing a strong serve-and-volley game, Cahill, 25, survived the assortment of spins, lobs and changes of pace thrown at him by Gilbert, seeded third in the tournament and ranked 10th in the world.
"It was a matter of keeping the pressure on him in the third set," Cahill said. "It's hard to break through him. I've got to put a little more on the volleys or he'll get there. I felt if I let the last game slip away it would have been difficult to break serve."