Gulbis Edges Fish to Win Farmers Classic

by John on August 1, 2011

Unseeded Ernests Gulbis, ranked No. 84 in the world, defeated top seed Mardy Fish 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles yesterday, derailing Fish’s bid to win back-to-back tournaments for the first time in his career. The title was the 22-year-old Gulbis’ second on the ATP Tour. Fish won at Atlanta a week ago. “It means a lot to me. It’s my second title,” said Gulbis, who garnered his first last year at Delray Beach. “It gives me a huge boost in confidence. Mardy is No. 9 in the world and today I played a good match.” Gulbis rode a booming serve, sledgehammer backhands and an array of deft drop shots to wear down his American opponent, the top-ranked player in the U.S. Prior to the tournament, Gulbis had lost five straight matches, the last four first-round exits. En route to the final, the 6-foot-3 Latvian defeated two seeded players — No. 5 Xavier Malisse in the first round and No. 2 Juan Martin del Potro in the quarterfinals. Gulbis has always had a very high upside, but for the most part his results have been inconsistent and disappointing. He achieved a career high No. 21 ranking in early February this year after reaching the quarterfinals at Doha and the semis at Sydney. Gulbis defeated Roger Federer in the second round of the Italian Open last year and took a set off Rafael Nadal in the semifinals. The first set proceeded on serve until the 12th game, when Gulbis double faulted on break point to drop the opener. Gulbis got the only break of the second set in the seventh game and evened the match with a second serve ace on set point. The Latvian raced to a 5-1 lead in the deciding set with breaks in the first and fifth games. Serving for the match at 5-2, Gulbis’ nerves got the better of him and he dropped serve to give Fish an opening. The Riga native got his mojo back in the 10th game, though, and served it out, cracking a forehand winner on his first match point. “I was tired and I was fatigued,” said Fish. “I played a lot of matches this past month. He was a wee bit fresher than me. … (Gulbis) has got a big game. He’s very flashy. You can see why he had some of the results he had last year.” Gulbis had 10 aces to 14 for Fish, but won 72 percent of his first service points compared to 68 percent for the American. The Latvian improved to 14-14 on the year.

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