Gulbis Upsets Tsonga to Win Open 13 at Marseille

by John on February 23, 2014

Ernests Gulbis

Latvian Ernests Gulbis powered his way past defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (5), 6-4 to win the Open 13 at Marseille Sunday afternoon. It was a final that wasn’t as close as the score would indicate. With his fifth career title, the third-seeded Gulbis improved to 5-0 in ATP Tour championship matches and 2-3 against Tsonga. Tsonga, seeded second and ranked No. 10 in the world, was going for his third title at Marseille, having also won in 2009. Pounding his ground strokes, serving huge and covering the court with fluid efficency, Gulbis had an answer for everything the heavy-hitting Tsonga threw at him. Long viewed as a potential Top-10 player, the No. 23-ranked Gulbis has mostly under-performed in his career so far, often defeating the best but also losing to far less-talented players. Lack of consistency has always been the issue. Sunday it wasn’t. Gulbis hit 14 aces and won 85 percent of the points on his first serve and 64 percent on his second. Tsonga had eight aces, while winning 80 percent of his first-service points, but only 45 percent of his second. Gulbis hit 41 winners to 22 for the Frenchman. The 25-year-old Gulbis will crack the Top 20 for the first time tomorrow. “My long-term goal in tennis isn’t to be Top 20. It’s to be No. 1,” Gulbis said. “Anything less than that wouldn’t make me fully satisfied. I don’t want to get to 30 years old, look back on my career and say I didn’t make something of it. Everybody’s looking for satisfaction in life, and my joy and happiness is based on my tennis career. I think [the top players] feel threatened by my game, because they know if I serve well and I’m aggressive, then it’s tough to play against me. I don’t feel I’m in the same league as the [Top 4] yet, I need to prove it. Game-wise, I think that I can be.” The first set was a nail biter, and proceeded on serve to a tiebreaker, although Tsonga struggled more to hold serve. The Frenchman saved a break point in the eighth game and two more in the 10th. Gulbis faced his only break point of the set in the 11th game and erased it with an ace. The Latvian jumped to a 4-1 lead in the tie-break and held on to take the first set in 54 minutes. With Tsonga serving at 1-1 in the second set, Gulbis got the only break of the match on his third break point of the game. Keeping the pressure on, Gulbis forced five more break points in the seventh game, before Tsonga held. Gulbis saved his second break point of the day in the eighth game and held to go up 5-3. Two more holds and the match was over in one hour and 34 minutes.








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