TENNIS

Gulbis, Roger-Vasselin in Delray Beach final as top-seeded John Isner ousted

 

Special to The Herald

The Delray Beach International Tennis Championships final Sunday will be contested by Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Ernests Gulbis, two unseeded players ranked below 100 in the ATP World Tour rankings.

On a cool Saturday night, the 105th-ranked Roger-Vasselin of France upset top-seeded John Isner 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Roger-Vasselin, who was 0-5 in quarterfinals before this week, will be playing in his first tour final.

“He beat me,” said Isner, who did have 21 aces in the match, including five in a row in the third game of the third set. “I didn’t bring it. It all started with my serve. I didn’t make enough first serves.

“Credit to him, he played well and deserved to win. It’s very disappointing.”

In the second set, Isner was able to rebound from 4-2 deficit to win the set. But he lost his serve in the first game of the third set to secure his fate.

The 29-year-old Roger-Vasselin came to tennis the old-fashioned way by following in his father Christophe’s footsteps. The elder Roger-Vasselin was a 1983 French Open semifinalist – beating Jimmy Connors in the quarterfinals – and ranked as high as No. 39.

Earlier in the day, 109th-ranked qualifier Gulbis of Latvia upset second-seeded Tommy Haas 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2) for a shot at a second career Delray Beach title. The sixth qualifier to reach the Delray Beach final, Gulbis won here in 2010 as a direct entry into the main draw.

Around the tour, Gulbis is known as the rich kid with the infectious personality that you can’t help but like. He’s cheeky, clever and contrary enough to entertain and always be popular with fans.

The 25-year-old Latvian – the son of millionaire investor Ainars Gulbis, and Milena Gulbis, a well-known theater actress – has made a habit of taking tennis and life in his stride.

Critics have picked on Gulbis for squandering his talent and failing to be serious about his tennis. Nowadays, however, he claims to be somewhat reformed.

He dedicated himself to fulfilling his tennis potential after it started to bother him that lesser players were passing him in the rankings. He started working last spring with Austrian Gunther Bresnik, who was the guiding force behind former champion Boris Becker in his heyday.

“Experience. [It’s] when you live a quarter of a century,” said Gulbis, who earlier in the week snapped a racket in half, but behaved against Haas.

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