Andy Roddick had three chances to close out Kevin Anderson on Friday night, and failed each time. The third set was even worse.
Roddick lost 2-6, 7-6 (9), 6-4 to the seventh-seeded South African in the quarterfinals of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships.
"There's not often I can look back at my career and say a serve lost me the match," Roddick said. "But, today, that was the case.
"I've made a career of getting my first serves in."
One of Roddick's three match points was on his own serve, but he couldn't get his first opportunity in. He eventually netted a backhand slice.
Anderson, who never before survived three match points in a match, next plays top-seeded John Isner, who advanced with a solid 6-3, 6-2 victory over No. 8 seed Bernard Tomic of Australia.
"I just settled down a bit better and was getting better looks at his serve," Anderson said.
Roddick saved three set points in the second, but pushed a forehand long on the final point of the tiebreaker.
Anderson squandered a 2-0 lead in the deciding set, but he moved ahead for good when he broke Roddick for the final time in the fifth game.
Despite the loss, Roddick feels his game is getting into better shape after dealing with a right hamstring and right ankle injury this season.
"I played OK this week," Roddick said. "I returned a little bit better. I flowed a little bit better than a week ago. It's just a matter of getting my percentage better on my serve."
The 11th-ranked Isner, who is 9-3 this season, is the second-ranked American behind No. 8 Mardy Fish.
On a day where the swirling wind annoyed all the players, Isner put up nine aces and won four of his nine service games at love in the 56-minute match.
"I played well right from the get-go," Isner said. "When he has time, that's when he gets comfortable. So I wanted to keep the points short, which is what I want to do every match.
"The wind was very, very tricky."
Dudi Sela of Israel was the first player to score a semifinal berth, posting a 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-0 win against fifth-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.
The 75th-ranked Sela reached his first ATP World Tour semifinal since the 2010 Chennai tournament.
Sela was in position to close out the match in two sets but couldn't get the job done.
He was serving at 6-5, 30-0 but lost the next four points to send the second set into a tiebreaker. He owned the third set, losing only four points in his three service games.
"I was supposed to win in two sets," Sela said. "I was 6-5 in the second set, 30-love serving, and I got a little nervous and he went for two good shots.
"But I'm happy I played well in the third, stayed positive and won the match."
Sela will take on Australian qualifier Marinko Matosevic in the semifinals.
The 173rd-ranked Matosevic advanced with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 win over No. 76 Ernests Gulbis of Latvia.
Matosevic, who is currently working on an 11-match winning streak, is into his first career ATP semifinal.
"It feels good, especially coming through qualifying because it feels like I really earned it," Matosevic said. "The conditions were really tough and the wind was really getting me down in the first set. I just wasn't making enough balls and returns.
"I just let him beat himself in the end."