Ernests Gulbis nets second Delray Beach tennis title

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Delray Beach, FL, United States (4E Sports) – World No. 109 Ernests Gulbis of Latvia bagged his second Delray Beach International Tennis Championships trophy after defeating 105th-ranked Edouard Roger-Vasselin, 7-6(3), 6-3, Sunday.

The showdown marked the first time two players ranked outside the Top 100 of the ATP rankings contested an ATP final since No. 108 Ivo Karlovic defeated No. 150 Mariano Zabaleta in Houston in 2007.

Gulbis, who won here in 2010, also became the first qualifier to win a tour-level trophy in more than a year since Jarkko Nieminen ruled the Apia International Sydney in January 2011.

Gulbis improved to a 3-0 record in ATP World Tour finals and became the fourth multiple titlist of the tournament, joining Jan-Michael Gambill (2001, 2003), Jason Stoltenberg (1996-97) and Xavier Malisse (2005, 2007).

The Latvian, who won their previous three meetings on the ATP Challenger Tour, opened with a 2-0 lead before Roger-Vasselin settled into the match.

The Frenchman held set point when serving at 5-4, but couldn’t capitalize. From there, Gulbis gained confidence with his serves and went on the close out the victory in one hour and 36 minutes.

With the win, Gulbis is set to jump to around No. 52 in the world rankings while Roger-Vasselin, appearing in his first ATP World Tour final, will rise to around No. 79.

Meanwhile, Karolina Pliskova won her first WTA title with a 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory over Bethanie Mattek-Sands Sunday at the BMW Malaysian Open.

The 197th-ranked Mattek-Sands looked headed for an easy victory after taking the first set in just 23 minutes. Pliskova regained her composure to take the second set before wrapping up the victory.

Pliskova is expected to break into the Top 100 for the first time with her first title, rising from No. 127 to a career-best No. 84. Mattek-Sands’ stock will also rise from No. 197 to No. 132.

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