• Gulbis takes on Roger-Vasselin in Delray Beach final

    3/3/13 6:05 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Gulbis takes on Roger-Vasselin in Delray Beach final A surprising title match on Sunday in Delray Beach will pit Ernests Gulbis against Edouard Roger-Vasselin. This is Roger-Vasselin's first career ATP final.

    Ernests Gulbis and Edouard Roger-Vasselin will be squaring off for the first time in their careers at the ATP level when they battle for the title at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships on Sunday afternoon.

    However, they have faced each other three times on the Challenger circuit. Gulbis won all three meetings on hard courts, but not a single one came after Gulbis turned 20. They last collided in the 2007 Mons quarterfinals, with Gulbis prevailing 6-2, 6-4.

    Both players are at much different points in their careers now, and Gulbis especially has been through a whirlwind since their last meeting. The world No. 109 has been wildly up and down and he appears to be on the rise again after an extended slump. Gulbis qualified in both Rotterdam and Delray Beach and so far in the main draw this week he has taken out James Blake, Sam Querrey, Daniel Munoz-De La Nava, and Tommy Haas. The former French Open quarterfinalist survived both Querrey and Haas in third-set tiebreakers.

    Roger-Vasselin's run has been even more surprising but also far more straightforward. The 29-year-old Frenchman dismissed Flavio Cipolla, Ivo Karlovic, and Ricardas Berankis all in straight sets before upsetting No. 1 seed John Isner 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 on Saturday night. Roger-Vasselin is now 6-4 at the ATP level for his 2013 campaign.

    The two finalists each have several factors going for them. Roger-Vasselin showed against Isner that he is superb at using opponents' pace against them, and that's exactly what Gulbis brings to the table. Furthermore, Gulbis generally raises his level for higher-ranked opponents and often plays down to lesser competition (Roger-Vasselin is outside the Top 100). The Latvian, however, is tough to break when his serve is on and Roger-Vasselin likely has to win more than a few return games since his own serve is weak. Furthermore, Gulbis is familiar with windy afternoon conditions whereas his opponent has spent more time on court in the evenings.

    Finally, Gulbis is 2-0 lifetime in ATP finals and one of his triumphs came at this same event in 2010. Roger-Vasselin had never even advanced to an ATP semifinal prior to this week. Based primarily on experience and Gulbis' new-found mental strength that has been on display in Delray Beach, look for Gulbis to capture another title in straight sets.

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Gulbis wins!About time.

stratocast51 , 3/3/13 10:54 PM

Bravo Mr. Gulbis!!! Congrats!

danica , 3/4/13 4:40 AM

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