Tag Archive | "Gulbis"

Start of Something Big?  Gulbis Garners Delray Trophy

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Start of Something Big? Gulbis Garners Delray Trophy


img_0183Ivo Karlovic was hoping to fete his 31st birthday this afternoon with a victory in the finals of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships.  Lamentably, 21 year old Ernests Gulbis showed him no respect.  Gulbis crushed Karlovic 6-2,6-3 for his inaugural ATP title.

Karlovic opened the match in his usual fashion, smoking serves by his opponent.  Then up 2-1, Karlovic connected on a forehand winner to get his first break point.  However, by coercing errors from the big guy, Gulbis salvaged the game. From the outset, Gulbis got some good stabs at Karlovic’s serves relaying the message that he would not be intimidated.  After a good return set up a backhand crosscourt pass for deuce, Gulbis got a forehand error from Karlovic for his initial break point.   By prevailing in a long rally, Karlovic sponged the deficit.  However, with a return winner, Gulbis obtained a second break point and converted by clipping the line with a forehand.  After readily consolidating for 4-2, with Karlovic slicing a backhand long, Gulbis had two more chances to break.  By pulverizing another return, Gulbis stretched his lead to 5-2.  The next game, with an ace, Gulbis put himself one set closer to his first ATP title.

Prior to this match, Karlovic had surrendered his serve only once all week.  But, by using the first serve as target practice and annihilating the second, Gulbis was giving Karlovic all sorts of headache.  After pressuring Karlovic in the opening game of the second set and himself holding at love, Gulbis earned double break point off a sensational return.  When Karlovic failed to convert on a volley, Gulbis secured the break for 2-1.  After having no trouble consolidating, Gulbis pressured his opponent into a double fault for break point.  Karlovic bailed himself out with an ace.  Karlovic then looked to the heavens and with the sign of the cross thanked the powers above for getting him out of trouble.  A few points later, Karlovic secured the game to keep the deficit to one break.  Still, the problem for Karlovic was the inability to dent his opponent’s serve.  Serving at 3-5, with a backhand down the line pass and errors from Karlovic, Gulbis arrived at double match point.  With two aces, Karlovic put Gulbis on ice.  Once more, with a fiery forehand crosscourt return winner, Gulbis had break point.  Yet again, Karlovic denied him with an ace.  However, feeling the squeeze from Gulbis, Karlovic threw in two straight double faults to hand Gulbis the trophy.

Gulbis reflected that this triumph was particularly sweet in light of his horrendous record in 2009 where he “struggled a lot …with injury”.  The next few days, Gulbis plans to practice and “hopes to get a wildcard [at the Sony Ericsson Open] in Miami”.  From a ranking of 72, Gulbis will return to the top 50; his career high is 38 in April 2008.

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Karlovic Staves Off Fish to Get to Final

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Karlovic Staves Off Fish to Get to Final


img_0042_ikWith a 4-1 record against the ace machine, Ivo Karlovic, defending champion Mardy Fish knew he had his work cut out for him.  In the semifinals of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships, the chilly weather possibly affecting a chronic left knee injury, a ribcage issue and Karlovic firing backhand winners all conspired to halt Fish.  Karlovic prevailed 6-2, 6-3 to earn his first final spot in two years.

Following an initial comfortable service game, with a Karlovic forehand up the line winner, Fish went down break point. When Fish failed on a pass attempt, Karlovic took a 3-1 advantage.  With Fish unable to chip away at Karlovic’s serve, the latter jumped to a 5-2 lead.  At that point, Fish called the trainer and received attention to his abdominal area.  With Fish’s serve lacking zip and going predominately to the forehand, Karlovic elicited a couple of errors from his counterpart and wiped out two game points.  Then, with a backhand down the line winner, Karlovic arrived at set point.  Ivo cashed in when Mardy was unsuccessful with the down the line pass.

Initially, after getting off on the right foot in the second set, Fish stumbled again.  Subsequent to a forehand up the line winner by Karlovic erasing a game point, Fish saw a backhand down the line blaze by to set up a second break point for the Croat. As Fish’s forehand flew long, his racket also went airborne as he realized in handing Karlovic the break, he was probably done down 1-3.  With three back to back love games, Karlovic punched his ticket into Sunday’s  final against Ernests Gulbis.  This should be a fascinating encounter since it will be these two’s first meeting.

In doubles, Mike and Bob Bryan will defend their ITC title after defeating Taylor Dent and Ryan Harrison 6-7,7-5,10-4 in the semifinals. After a multitude of chances with either break or deciding point on Harrison’s serve in the first set, the Bryan brothers could not get the 17 year old to blink.  Instead, cool under pressure in the tiebreaker, Harrison made a stellar return which allowed Dent to finish with a backhand up the line winner for their first mini-break.  But, later, a miss hit return by Mike led to a Dent error wiping out the advantage.  Still, after holding serve to get a second set point, Harrison connected with a monster forehand return giving his team the first set.

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Gulbis Attains First Career Final Berth

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Gulbis Attains First Career Final Berth


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For 21 year old Ernests Gulbis, the game plan was simple, overpower his 28 year old opponent with big serves and ground strokes.  In executing this strategy well, Gulbis downed Jarkko Nieminen 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships to reach his first career ATP final.

After a love hold to open the match, Nieminen was in trouble the second game.  Unable to capitalize on two game points, Jarkko faced a fourth break point when he misfired on a forehand crosscourt.  With a backhand down the line winner, Gulbis secured the break for 2-1.  Despite difficulties, Gulbis went on to consolidate for a 3-1 edge.  Serving for the set at 5-4, with a couple of errors, Gulbis saw two set points disappear.  However, by calling on some booming serves, Gulbis carried the set.

The second set had a similar feel to the first at the start.  Subsequent to Nieminen winning the first game, down 0-30 in his second service game, he arrived at game point.  But, with Gulbis putting on the squeeze on the second serve, Nieminen eyed another break point.  With a spectacularly angled backhand return, Ernests forced a mistake from Jarkko and pocketed the break for 2-1.  Then, with a banal game, Gulbis extended his lead to 3-1.  Yet, serving at 3-2, Gulbis dumped two backhands into the net to give Nieminen double break point. Still edgy and frustrated in believing he was cheated out of an ace the prior point, Gulbis double faulted to equalize the set.  His next service game though, Gulbis pushed the calm button and quickly squared the set at 4 all.  Then, Gulbis swiftly regained the momentum. With Nieminen up 30-0, Gulbis bottled his urge to pull the trigger early and provoked his opponent into four consecutive errors, thereby capturing the break.  Now, one game away from the finish line, Gulbis’ potential victory lap was interrupted by rain.

When play resumed, after going down love-15, Gulbis found his rhythm on first serves after failing to connect initially.  After getting to double match point, Gulbis sealed the win with an ace.

Gulbis stated he was “happy” to prevail and that he feels “fit for [tomorrow's] match”.  When asked how he killed the three hour interlude, Gulbis replied “I ate, played basketball, did physio”.  In reference to his new coach Hernan Gumy, Gulbis characterizes him as “a great guy and great coach . . . He’s helped every aspect of my game”.

Gulbis awaits the result of the Mardy Fish and Ivo Karlovic semifinal which takes place later tonight.

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Delray Beach International Tennis Championships Just Around The Corner

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Delray Beach International Tennis Championships Just Around The Corner


db_itc_logo_rgbThe 17th session of the Delray Beach Championships, an ATP 250 World Tour event, will take place from February 21 thru March 1, 2009 at the Delray Beach Stadium and Tennis Center.

The 32 person singles’ draw features Tommy Haas, the 2006 champion along with Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, the 2006 Australian Open finalist. Other familiar names taking the court include Americans Mardy Fish, Robby Ginepri and the always charismatic, Vince Spadea.

Last year, 19-year-old Japanese wildcard, Kei Nishikori, stole the spotlight coming from nowhere to beat world number 12, James Blake. This year, talented 20-year-old Ernests Gulbis will be looking for the same result against more senior players such as Guillermo Canas and Jarkko Nieminen.

Accenting the doubles are Mike and Bob Bryan fresh off their seventh majors win in Australia and their reinstatement at number one. These two are looking to avenge their lost in the finals last year. A lethal combination, the Bryans, is one of the tournament’s biggest attractions.

The clock is ticking; the championships are just a couple of weeks away. For more details and to buy tickets, visit www.YellowTennisBall.com or call (561) 330-6000.   Here’s your chance to see the action first hand.  Don’t delay!

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Stepanek Steps Up To The Winner Circle In Brisbane


The finals at the Brisbane International in Australia featured third seed, Spaniard Fernando Verdasco and eight seed, Czech Radek Stepanek. Using his customary antics and tactics to unnerve his opponent, Stepanek triumphed over Verdasco 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

From the first game, Stepanek placed Verdasco on notice that volleying would be the order of the day. The Czech brought the Spaniard into net with a dropshot which the latter deftly handled for a backhand volley winner and went on to hold serve. Serving at 0-1, Radek unleashed another dropshot which Fernando again reached for a forehand volley winner. With two consecutive unforced errors from Stepanek, Verdasco arrived at triple break point. With a forehand down the line winner, Verdasco took a 2-0 lead. After finally holding serve at 1-3, Stepanek pressured two unforced errors from Verdasco’s weaker side, the backhand, for love-30. However, it is the closest the Czech got to overcoming the break deficit. The Spaniard pulled out the game and capped off the set with a forehand volley for winner.

A major problem for Stepanek the previous set was a low first serve percentage which impeded his venturing to the forecourt. The Czech quickly rectified that dilemma. Serving to open the second set, Stepanek connected on an overhead smash and two volleys to lead 1-0. Then, by pressuring Verdasco’s backhand, Stepanek got his first break point. Despite being unsuccessful, for Radek, this was a sign of better things on the horizon. When Stepanek got another break chance, he took the opportunity to rouse up the crowd. When later Verdasco misfired on a backhand crosscourt backhand, Stepanek had a 3-1 lead. Now fully energized and with a potent first serve and lethal volleys, Stepanek went on to carry the second set.

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Spotlight On Beijing 2008: Going for Tennis Gold


After the pageantry of the opening ceremonies on Friday which was highlighted by tennis stars Roger Federer and Chilean Fernando Gonzalez carrying the flag for their countries, today marked the initial session of full competition. But the headline turned out to be the weather as most of the matches were rained out.

American James Blake seeded 8th defeated Australian Chris Guiccione 6-3. 7-6; while Russian Nikolay Davydenko took care of Latvian contender Ernests Gulbis 6-4, 6-2. Fernando Gonzalez, Czech Tomas Berdych and Argentine Guillermo Canas also marched on to the next round.

The women’s draw was handed a major disappointment as French Open champion and top seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia withdrew due to a thumb injury. Ivanovic has been battling with this issue since Wimbledon. Despite stating that she will be in New York, Ivanovic’s participation at the U.S. Open is up in the air. Italian Francesca Schiavone and Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki had no trouble dismissing their opponents. Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova also advanced.

On day two, Federer taking on Russian Dmitry Tursunov is perhaps the most interesting match up. Other key players on tap include Rafael Nadal, Serena and Venus Williams, Serbian Novak Djokovic and the hottest female on tour Russian Dinara Safina. Since the surface in Beijing is a hardcourt, it should present a good challenge for these competitors as they prepare for the U.S. Open.

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Davydenko Defeats Nadal; Captures Sony Ericsson Open Title


The 2008 Sony Ericsson Open men’s final was contested between Spain’s Rafael Nadal, the second seed, and Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko, the fourth seed.  Davydenko prevailed 6-4, 6-2 and made history by becoming the first Russian man to win the singles title.

Davydenko’s straight sets win in the finals was in contrast to his earlier matches.  Nikolay was almost ousted in the first round where he faced a match point against Ernests Gulbis and all his other matches consisted of three set battles where he came from behind in each to advance.

At the onset of the match, it appeared that the heat might play a role in deciding the victor. Davydenko’s coach was said to be concerned about how the blistering temperatures would affect Nikolay’s chances.  However, luck was on Davydenko’s side.  For the first time in the tournament’s history, the men’s final was to be contested as the best of three sets not five.

Leading 3-2 in the first set, Nadal appeared in control and about to extend his perfect record against Davydenko. But, Davydenko had other plans. Using his secret weapon, a new racquet that he debuted at the tournament, the Russian turned the set around and cruised to a win.  What makes the racquet story worth mentioning is that Davydenko utilized the same racquet for all of his matches at the Sony. Incredible considering that today’s players often change racquets during a match.

Although the Russian has consistently remained in the top five for the last four consecutive years, Davydenko has not received the same media attention as many of his peers.  Each year Miami’s residents are treated to banners showcasing the images of the Sony Ericsson’s past champions and fan favorites. It will be interesting to see if Davydenko’s image will grace the Rickenbacker Causeway in the run up to next year’s tournament.

As the 2008 Sony Ericsson comes to an end and we count down to the 2009 Sony Ericsson Open, MiamiTennisBlog.com will continue to provide our readers with local and global tennis coverage.  

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