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Djokovic and Sharapova Top Billing at Sony Open On Sunday

Djokovic and Sharapova Top Billing at Sony Open On Sunday

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Reigning champion Novak Djokovic takes the court on the first Sunday of the tournament. The Serb battles Somdev Dewarman in the third round as he attempts to pocket his third successive title at the Sony Open.

Four time finalist Maria Sharapova faces fellow Russian Elena Vesnina in the round of 32. Sharapova is trying for the second straight year to reach the finals at both Indian Wells and Miami.

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Murray Rolls at Sony Open, Top Americans Battle into Third round

Murray Rolls at Sony Open, Top Americans Battle into Third round

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Miami, FL Ricky Dimon
While other top players prematurely tumbled out of the tournament or skipped the Sony Open Tennis event altogether, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray forged full steam ahead.

Less than 24 hours after Djokovic hammered Lukas Rosol 6-1, 6-0, Murray took care of Bernard Tomic 6-3, 6-1 during second-round action on Saturday afternoon. The third-ranked Scot struck eight aces and held all eight of his service games to prevail in a mere 56 minutes.

Tomic held his first two service games of the match and even saw multiple break points at 2-1 in the opener, but it was downhill for him the rest of the way. The 20-year-old Australian dropped five of the next six games, including at 3-5 on his own serve. Tomic, who explained afterward that he had been dealing with an illness, was more hopeless in the second. He won a mere two return points and saved none of the break points he faced.

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Serena Williams Dispatches Morita for a Fourth Round Berth at Sony Open

Serena Williams Dispatches Morita for a Fourth Round Berth at Sony Open

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Despite being tested, five time Sony Open champion Serena Williams posted a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Japan’s Ayumi Morita in the third round in Miami.

This was the second career meeting between these ladies. Earlier this year, in Australia, the two clashed in the third round with Williams comfortably prevailing 6-1, 6-3.

Double faults were Williams undoing her initial service game resulting in the donation of a break. Morita went on to consolidate for 3-0. Soon though, the world number one found her game and rolled off six games in a row to capture the opening set.

The second set, Morita ultimately found a bandage to stop the hemorrhage and terminated Williams’ run at seven consecutive games.

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Del Potro Upset, Djokovic Advances at Sony Open

Del Potro Upset, Djokovic Advances at Sony Open

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Miami, FL Ricky Dimon

No Roger Federer, no Rafael Nadal, and now no Juan Martin Del Potro. Always a marquee draw, especially at a tournament sometimes known as “the Latin American slam,” Del Potro lost his opening match at the Sony Open on Friday evening. The Argentine lost to Tobias Kamke 7-6(5), 6-1 in one hour and 50 minutes.

Del Potro, coming off a runner-up finish in Indian Wells, led 5-2 in the first set and even had two set points in the eighth game. Not only did the world No. 7 fail to close the deal, but he also squandered a mini-break lead in the ensuing tiebreaker. After a rain delay halted play for two hours in between sets, a listless Del Potro had nothing left in the tank. Kamke raced to a 5-0 advantage before serving out the match with a routine hold at 5-1.

“I made a lot of mistakes,” Del Potro assured. “I was excited to play here, but it was just a bad day and he played really well. I think he deserved to win and it’s okay.”

Although the German’s victory made for a shocking result, it was by no means the most bizarre event of the day. Early on in the night session, not long after Del Potro’s setback, a power outage blacked out the grounds and delayed the action yet again, this time for 30 minutes.

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Nieminen Comeback Stuns Nalbandian, Tomic to Meet Murray at Sony Open

Nieminen Comeback Stuns Nalbandian, Tomic to Meet Murray at Sony Open


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Miami, FL Ricky Dimon
Jarkko Nieminen staged the comeback of the tournament thus far when he stunned David Nalbandian 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 in round one of the Sony Open Tennis event on Thursday afternoon. Niemined trailed by a set and two breaks at 3-0 in the second before a miracle recovery paced him to a win in one hour and 49 minutes.

The 31-year-old Finn appeared to be on his way out of Miami when he double-faulted on break point already trailing 2-0 in set two. Nalbandian even had a game point on serve at 3-0, 40-30, but the turnaround began when his opponent managed to get one of the breaks back. From there Nieminen could do no wrong, surging through the second and using an early break in the third to clinch victory.

Next up for Nieminen is fellow left-hander and No. 27 seed Martin Klizan. An even more intriguing second-round machup will pit world No. 3 Andy Murray against Bernard Tomic. The 20-year-old Aussie booked his spot in that showdown by dismissing 35-year-old qualifier Marc Gicquel 7-5, 7-6(3). Tomic twice fought back from a break down in the first set before both players held serve throughout the second. Gicquel also had a 2-0 lead in the ensuing tiebreaker, but Tomic won seven of the match’s final eight points.

“I haven’t seen him play that much outside of Australia,” Murray said of Tomic. “But he’s a very, very talented player. He makes it tough for everyone. He’s got a very unorthodox game style.”

A style of play that did not work on Thursday evening was singles players on a doubles court. Top two Americans Sam Querrey and John Isner went down 6-4, 6-3 to Dominic Inglot and Indian Wells doubles runner-up Treat Huey. Inglot and Huey, former teammates at the University of Virginia, held all nine of their service games without facing a break point to advance in a mere 57 minutes.

Up first for Isner in singles will be Ivan Dodig, who overcame Lukas Lacko 4-6, 6-0, 6-4. Additional three-setters on Thursday saw David Goffin oust Robin Haase and Simone Bolelli defeat Jesse Levine. Bolelli trailed by a break in the third and saved a match point on Levine’s serve at 5-4 before triumphing 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4).

Ricky Dimon is a contributor in Miami and writes for TennisTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter under @RD_Tennistalk by clicking here.

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Novak Djokovic Fields Media Questions at Sony Open

Novak Djokovic Fields Media Questions at Sony Open


©Mauricio Paiz

Photo ©Mauricio Paiz

Two time defending Sony Open Tennis champion Novak Djokovic begins his title defense on Friday. Prior to his first match in Miami, the world number one player sat down with members of the media on Wednesday afternoon. Djokovic answered questions about the absence of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in Miami, a potential semifinal encounter with Juan Martin Del Potro and the upcoming Serbia vs. US Davis Cup match.

He concluded the interview by asking members of the media to smile for a picture to post on his twitter account. You can see the picture by clicking here.

Here is the complete interview with Djokovic :

Q. How do you feel playing this tournament without Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s the same for me. I look forward to this tournament and I have had plenty of success in Sony Ericsson Open in last five, six years. It’s the first Masters title that I won in 2007, and I’m sure that even without them we will have a great tournament.

Q. How are you feeling here and the courts and everything? Have you been here a few days?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I practiced, and actually going to practice now again. I like it. I like the conditions. It can be quite humid, but, you know, these weather conditions are different from Indian Wells and from other tournaments, which is normal to expect. It’s not the first time I’m in Miami. So as I said, I had plenty of success in the past. That gives me a reason to believe I can do well again in this tournament.

Q. I’d like to know about your yoga. Is it true you practice yoga every day?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes.

Q. I’d like to know since when and how does it help you in your tennis?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I don’t spend much time doing it. I do a combination of stretching and exercise, breathing exercises and something that can, you know, help me align myself and find the inner peace and also work on this breathing through movements kind of exercise, you know, that can improve my flexibility and better movement of the joints. That’s what I use it for, and I like it.

Q. Would you consider Sony Open to be a fifth Grand Slam?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s difficult to say, because there are eight, nine 1000s, or as they used to call them, Masters tournaments, that are kind of the same level. It’s tough to pick one which is just behind the Grand Slams. But if you have to make a small group of tournaments out of this eight, nine tournaments, you know, Masters level, Miami would be definitely one of them that is just behind Grand Slams.

Q. Today the US Open or the USTA announced the US Open will increase their prize money quite a lot through the next few years, and also that starting 2015 they will be in line with the same schedule of Thursday/Saturday for the guys, Friday/Sunday for the girls and a Monday final. Your reaction?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, well, we have been talking with them for quite a while now, and it’s a positive step to see the prize money increase. It’s a good response, and it’s, you know, a reaction from US Open towards the players’ demands and desires. And as I said before, we all have to stay united. We all have to try not just as players, but also the people from the tournament side to work towards improving this game and the world of tennis. So, you know, Grand Slams are huge competitions. They are over two weeks long and there are a lot of benefits. Without players, those benefits are not possible. So I’m sure that a lot of players will be happy with this prize money increase. And to be honest, me personally, I am not happy with a Monday final. But it is the way it is for next two years. I think we have to accept it, and then after that, it all goes back to normal hopefully for Sunday final like every Grand Slam has.

Q. Can we go back to Indian Wells for just a second? After your loss, you had said that lack of concentration and focus was probably, you know, the main reason. How often does that happen to you, and are you generally able to pull yourself out? How difficult is it to sustain such a high level of concentration on a consistent basis?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think it’s the biggest challenge for a tennis player. At this level you have to be consistently successful, and in order to be consistently successful to be one of the contenders for top place, you have to be concentrated from the first to the last point in every match that you play. Most of the matches that you play, in the opening rounds especially, you’re the clear favorite to win those, and that’s where it can be quite dangerous because the lower‑ranked players have nothing to lose against you. You are going into the court knowing that you’re expected to win.

You know, it’s not an easy thing ‑‑ it’s easier said than done, really, to go out there and keep the focus going and try to stay grounded, and, you know, fight for every point regardless who is across the net.

So that’s why it’s a big challenge. But it happens. It happens to everybody. Everybody has ups and downs through the match, through their careers, you know. I have lost my match in Indian Wells, a very close match, almost three hours against a Grand Slam champion, you know, against an established top‑10 player, Del Potro. I haven’t lost against, you know, a less quality player.

But, again, a few points decided the win. I could have prevailed, but I didn’t. That’s sport. You know, when you lose you try to understand what you did wrong so you can get better for the next one.

Q. Beyond the tennis, how do you like coming to Miami? What’s your favorite thing about Miami other than playing the matches here?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: There is a great energy about the city. You know, I have been staying in Key Biscayne Island for last few years, so most of my whereabouts are here on the island because of the tennis.

It’s very convenient, very close to the hotel, beautiful weather. Obviously South Beach is something ‑‑ is a very special location in the city where you get to have a lot of great restaurants, places to see, to visit, a lot of young people. Just a very alive city. It’s interesting to see. It’s interesting to always see and visit once in a while.

Q. Just going back to the USTA, is that more evidence that the players are really kind of working together at the moment and getting a lot of progress made on that kind of issue?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Indeed. It’s a very positive step for players. You know, it proves that players I think are more united than ever. I believe that these are some significant changes, you know, in the negotiations with Grand Slams.

It hasn’t happened for I think ever or for many, many years that we have such increases. We just feel like we deserve it. You know, there is a lot of players, not just the top players, but a lot of players who are in top 100, top 200, who deserve to, you know, have a better living from this sport.

You know, so this is, as I said, a great, great move forward, and hopefully we can achieve many more things together.

Q. On your match against Juan Martin Del Potro last week, what are your thoughts on his level of play, and what would you do different in case you encounter here in semifinals?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s still a long way to talk about eventual semifinal matchup with Juan Martin. Still have to win many matches to that point, as well as he does.

As I said, a few points really decide the winner in Indian Wells. I was 3‑Love up in the third set and had some game points for 5‑4 in the third, and then, you know, he also played really well. There’s no question about it.

He deserved to win, because in the important moments he was the player who stepped in, who was going for the shots and being more aggressive, and that’s why he deserved to be a winner.

Q. We know what you do really well, but if there are things you don’t do well and can’t do and you’d like to turn that around and do some of those things really well, what would that be?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Hmm. Well, your best change is day to day, right? You can’t always expect yourself to play on the 100% of your abilities, you know, and you try to adjust to the feeling that you have that day, you know, kind of general feeling, and you try to maximize your possibilities.

There are things that are always open in my game for improvement. There is room for improvement. I feel that I still can improve a lot of shots in my game, you know. I still feel that I can serve maybe better in some moments. I still feel that maybe I can come to the net a bit more often.

So it’s actually very encouraging for me, because I like to work, you know. I like to practice and try to improve my game and get my game to best possible level. So that’s a positive, you know.

Q. I was meaning not in tennis.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Sorry. You should have jumped into my answer before. (Smiling.)

Q. I didn’t want to interrupt you.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Not in tennis?

Q. Yeah.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: But in what way?

Q. You know, let’s say you’re a bad singer and that’s what you would really like to excel at, that sort of thing. Like Serena said, she can’t sing and she’d love to sing. So something you can’t do you don’t do well but you’d like to really do well.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: (Pause.) Okay. That’s a good question. I love all the sports, so I would love to play golf and basketball a little bit better. Even though I love cooking, I think I’m not so good at it. So I think I have to improve there. That’s enough. I will tell you in the next one when I think about it a little bit more.

Q. Considering the big start of the season of Juan Martin Del Potro, do you think he’s coming this year to approach finally the top four players?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It can be, but I don’t think anybody can really predict what’s going to happen. If he has the quality to do that? Yes, he does. He has the potential. He’s an all‑round player who can play equally well on any surface and he has proven that last few years.

Now it really depends, you know, if he can sustain this level and physically be fit enough to play on that high level throughout the whole year, because that’s what it takes to, you know, to be in top four.

Q. If I can ask you to look ahead a little to the Davis Cup and your thoughts on that, and if you know anything about Boise and what Idaho is famous for.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, been asked that question in Indian Wells. I know that Boise is famous for its potatoes. I’m looking forward to some good mashed potatoes there. (Laughter.)

Yeah, it’s not a big place, but they say that they have a huge stadium, like capacity of 12,000 people. Hopefully it’s going to be a full, packed house, because you always like to see many people coming to watch tennis. It’s going to be the first time that we all go to Idaho.

I have some friends who live in Sun Valley which is close by. I wish I had a little more time so I can go and ski a little bit.

But, you know, considering the Davis Cup tie against United States, who is the most successful country in the world in that competition, I think that fact says enough about the quality of and the tradition that this country possess about this competition, about this sport in general.

Even though they don’t have a top‑10 player, but still they have good quality players, like Isner and Querrey who are showing their great potential always when they play in Davis Cup.

I mean, Isner beat Federer; he beat Simon; he beat the top guys in Davis Cup. He loves to play for his country. It will be in an altitude over 800 meters, I think. That goes to their favor I think because of the big serves.

Anything is possible, really. I mean, for now, I am committed to Davis Cup. I will first try to focus on this tournament, see how I go, but the way things stand I want to play and I want to bring my country another win.

And before we go, can we just make a photo for Twitter from here? You all have to smile, please.

Everybody, smile.

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Blake Rolls Past Harrison, Joins Fellow Veterans in Next Round At Sony Open

Blake Rolls Past Harrison, Joins Fellow Veterans in Next Round At Sony Open

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Miami, FL Ricky Dimon
Not even a rain delay that lasted more than one hour and pushed the day schedule into the night session could keep James Blake from getting off the court at a reasonable hour on Wednesday at the Sony Open Tennis event. Blake crushed fellow American Ryan Harrison 6-2, 6-2 in a mere 57 minutes to book a spot in the second round.

The 33-year-old squandered all of a 0-40 opportunity on Harrison’s serve in the third game of the match, but he took control with a break for 3-2 in the first set. From there it was all Blake the rest of the way. Harrison, who is now 0-3 in the head-to-head series, dropped the last five games of the opener and lost five of the first six games in the second. Blake eventually double-faulted on his second match point at 5-2, but he converted his third chance en route to a meeting with No. 24 seed Julien Benneteau.

The theme of the day on Stadium Court was veteran success, as Blake’s performance was preceded by victories for Lleyton Hewitt and Nikolay Davydenko. Hewitt took care of Joao Sousa 6-1, 7-6(3) before Davydenko held off Paolo Lorenzi 6-0, 2-6, 6-0. A thunderstorm tried to halt the 31-year-old Russian’s momentum at 2-0 in the third, but he picked up where he left off more than an hour earlier and surged through the last four games of the match.

“When you’re out injured and just had surgery and rehab, (it) feels like a long way away to getting back out there and playing the big tournaments again,” Hewitt explained. “You probably enjoy it a little bit more when you’re able to come back and bounce back from injuries, to be back competing at these tournaments. It’s nice to be back out there on center court today.”

Drama on the outer courts included a third-set tiebreaker featuring Jurgen Melzer and Ricardas Berankis, an impressive comeback by Somdev Devvarman against Evgeny Donskoy, and some bad blood between Michael Llodra and Benoit Paire.

Melzer outlasted Berankis 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(1) after previously edging the Lithuanian in a 2010 U.S. Open thriller that went to 7-5 in the fifth set. Devvarman trailed Donskoy by a set and a break and by 5-2 in the second-set tiebreaker before recovering to topple the Russian 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 in two hours and 28 minutes. Llodra and Paire, engaged in a heated verbal exchanged during the very first change over ends, had to be separated by chair umpire Damien Dumusois. There was no handshake between the players after Paire–who blew four set points in the opening frame of play–went down to his 32-year-old countryman 7-6(7), 6-2.

Ricky Dimon is a contributor in Miami and writes for TennisTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter under @RD_Tennistalk by clicking here.

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Novak Djokovic Seeks Place in Record Books at the 2013 Sony Open

Novak Djokovic Seeks Place in Record Books at the 2013 Sony Open


IMG_1283_DjokovicNovak Djokovic begins his Sony Open title defense on Friday night, March 22. Djokovic, the 2013 Australian Open champion, is looking for a place in the Sony Open record books by attempting to win three straight Miami titles.

Possibly standing in Djokovic’s path is a potential semifinal encounter with Juan Martin Del Potro. If both players advance to the semis in Miami, it would be a rematch of last week’s 2013 BNP Paribas Open semifinal. In that match, Del Potro emerged the victor ending Djokovic’s 17 match winning streak. The only player to have won the Miami title three years in a row is Andre Agassi (2001 – 2003).

Here is the official press release from the tournament :

WORLD NO. 1 NOVAK DJOKOVIC TO KICK-OFF EVENING SESSION PLAY ON FRIDAY, MARCH 22

MIAMI, Fla. (www.sonyopentennis.com) – World No. 1 and two-time defending Sony Open champion Novak Djokovic will return to South Florida on Friday, March 22 (Session 8) at 7:30 p.m. to begin his quest to a three peat at this year’s 2013 Sony Open. Djokovic’s potential opponents will be determined when the men’s draw is announced on Monday, March 18.

Djokovic has proven from his success at the Sony Open that this is one of his favorite stops on tour. The gregarious Serbian star has always stated that he “enjoys the beautiful city of Miami and the tennis fever that goes on in South Florida.”

The three time Sony Open champion (’07,’11,‘12) is looking to continue his hot start to 2013 after capturing the Australian Open crown in January. Djokovic has consistently had great results at the Sony Open, reaching the finals four of the last six years, including an epic championship win over Andy Murray last year.

Arguably the best player in the world the past two years, Djokovic has won 19 titles including 5 Grand Slams since the start of 2011 and is looking to hold a tighter grasp on the number one ranking.

The Sony Open offers the ultimate entertainment experience over a span of two weeks with an array of events taking place in between exceptional matches featuring the best players on the planet. The exciting restaurants and lounges on site contribute to the electrifying buzz in which fans can enjoy and prepare for the launch of the evening session. Also prior to Djokovic’s evening match, Fila will host “FILA Friday Night” on the entertainment stage at 6:00 p.m. This event brings some of the top ATP and WTA players to the stage in which fans can participate in a question and answer session.

Tickets to the 2013 Sony Open are on sale now and can be purchased by phone (305-442-3367) or via the internet at www.sonyopentennis.com. A thrilling two weeks of tennis conclude with the women’s final on Saturday, March 30 and the men’s final on Sunday, March 31.

ABOUT THE SONY OPEN: The 2013 Sony Open will be played March 18-April 31 at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park in Miami. The two-week combined event is owned and operated by IMG. The Sony Open is one of nine ATP Masters 1000 Series events on the ATP calendar, a Premier Mandatory event on the WTA calendar, and features the top men’s and women’s tennis players in the world. In 2012 Novak Djokovic defeated Andy Murray for his third Sony Open title, while Agnieszka Radwanska knocked off Maria Sharapova to capture her first title in Miami. For ticket information, call (305) 442-3367 or visit the website at www.SonyOpenTennis.com

ABOUT SONY MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS: Sony Mobile Communications is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation, a leading global innovator of audio, video, game, communications, key device and information technology products for both the consumer and professional markets. Through its Xperia™ smartphone portfolio, Sony Mobile Communications delivers the best of Sony technology, premium content and services, and easy connectivity to Sony’s world of networked entertainment experiences. For more information: www.sonymobile.com

ABOUT IMG: IMG Worldwide is a global sports, entertainment and media business, with nearly 3,000 employees operating in 30 countries around the globe. IMG’s areas of expertise are diverse and wide ranging: IMG College; IMG’s Joint Ventures in China, Brazil and India; IMG Media; IMG Events and Federations; IMG Fashion; IMG Models; IMG Art+Commerce; IMG Clients; IMG Academies; IMG Consulting and IMG Licensing. More information is available at www.imgworld.com.

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Rafael Nadal Withdraws from 2013 Sony Open

Rafael Nadal Withdraws from 2013 Sony Open

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Rafael Nadal has pulled out of the 2013 Sony Open to rest his left knee. On the advice of doctors, Nadal will return home to rest and strengthen his left leg in the lead up to the clay court season. Nadal is expected to return to the ATP in April to play in Monte Carlo.

Here is the official statement by Adam Barrett, Tournament Director, Sony Open Tennis

“We are disappointed to hear the news that Rafael Nadal will not be competing in Miami this year, especially given his strong results since his return to the Tour. He is a tremendous ambassador for the game and has thousands of adoring fans here in South Florida. We wish him well and hope to see him back in Miami next year. The Sony Open is looking forward to a tremendous two weeks of tennis with the likes of two-time defending Australian Open men’s champion Novak Djokovic, defending Olympic gold medalist and US Open men’s champion Andy Murray, 2013 Australian Open women’s champion Victoria Azarenka, reigning French Open women’s champion Maria Sharapova and defending Wimbledon, US Open and Olympic champion Serena Williams competing against the rest of the world’s best players here in Miami”.

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Gulbis Wins the International Tennis Championships in Delray Beach

Gulbis Wins the International Tennis Championships in Delray Beach

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Ernests Gulbis made a return appearance in the final at the International Tennis Championships in Delray Beach, Florida. The 2010 champion battled 29 year old Edouard Roger-Vasselin who was in his maiden ATP final. Gulbis downed Roger-Vasselin 7-6, 6-3 to bank his third career trophy.

This is the first time since 2007 in Houston that two players ranked outside the top hundred have reached this stage of the tournament. Gulbis, a former top 30 player, narrowly escaped the qualifying round to get into the main draw.

In the second round, Gublis overcame a 4-0 lead by third seed Sam Querrey in the third set. Later, in the semifinals versus second seed Tommy Haas, the Latvian erased a 0-40 disadvantage in the third set at 5 all to become the sixth qualifier to advance to the final.

For his part, Roger-Vasselin bounced big serving Ivo Karlovic in the second round, then, shocked top seed John Isner in the semifinals.

Although Gulbis and Roger-Vasselin had not met at the big league level, the two clashed on three prior occasions on the challenger circuit last in 2007 with Gulbis the winner every time.

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