Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis wins Florida tennis title
LATVIAN qualifier Ernests Gulbis has won his third career ATP title by beating France's Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 at the Delray Beach International.
Gulbis, ranked four spots below his opponent at 109 in the world, saved a set point in the 10th game of the match with a backhand winner and broke back on his way to taking his second Delray Beach crown in four years.
"I'm really happy," Gulbis said. "I worked hard. These last nine days were tough. I had a match almost every day, except one day it rained, so I'm exhausted now."
Gulbis won his first career title at Delray Beach in 2010 and his only other ATP crown came in 2011 at Los Angeles, an event that is ending after this year.
"It's my favourite tournament. It's the only tournament in the world I am winning," Gulbis said.
After congratulating Roger-Vasselin for reaching his first ATP final, Gulbis said he hoped the victory would help launch him into the world's top 50.
"I hope it's your breakthrough tournament as it is for me, to come back from when I was 150,000th in the world," Gulbis said. "I'd like to make the top 50.
"I don't think nothing, just don't care and play. If you think too much you are going to lose for sure."
A double fault by Gulbis handed the Frenchman a break and a 5-4 lead in the first set, but after his backhand to deny Roger-Vasselin the set, Gulbis battled back to break even at 5-5.
Gulbis, who was 21 in the world two years ago, jumped ahead 4-1 in the tie-breaker before each man won two points on his own serve and Roger-Vasselin went wide with a backhand to drop the set.
"I thought I served pretty well," Roger-Vasselin said. "I had a set point but he made an unbelievable backhand winner."
The $455,775 outdoor hardcourt event was the final US tuneup for the ATP Masters Series event next week at Indian Wells, California.