Gulbis upsets Haas to reach Delray Beach final
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Qualifier Ernests Gulbis upset of second-seeded Tommy Haas in three sets on Saturday to reach the final of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships.
Gulbis, ranked 109th in the world, won 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2) to move into a tournament final for the first time since 2011, when he won in Los Angeles.
His other title came here in 2010.
Gulbis, from Latvia, is the fifth qualifier to reach the Delray Beach finals. The others were Marinko Matosevic of Australia (2012), Evgeny Korolev 0f Uzbekistan in 2009, Kei Nishikori of Japan in 2008, Alex Calatrava of Spain in 2000 and Andrew Ilie of Australia in 1998.
Nishikori and Ilie won the titles when they reached the final.
"It is the first outdoor tournament after the indoor season,'' Gulbis said. "Qualifiers have one small advantage as they've played already three matches while the main draw guys haven't played a match yet.
"That's why there's a lot of upsets here.''
Gulbis will play the winner of Saturday night's semifinal between top-seeded John Isner and Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France.
It was another chilly day in South Florida and the wind was swirling at 24 mph during the first two sets. In the third set, as the wind died down to 14 mph the quality of the tennis picked up.
"The beginning was tough and it's not easy to play in those conditions,'' Haas said. "When it becomes that windy you're whole game plan, whole mood changes and you have to play different tennis.
"In the third set the wind was much better.''
Gulbis is known as a talented player who has never found consistency in his game. He's also known for losing his temper when matches aren't going his way.
On Saturday against Haas, he competed to win in adverse conditions and didn't lose focus.
"There is no old Ernests,'' said Gulbis, who laughingly addressed his better attitude. "Experience. (It's) when you lived a quarter of a century.''
Haas is known for having an effective serve, but with the windy conditions he only posted one ace and an uncharacteristic nine double faults.
Haas had opportunities to take control of the third set, but wasn't able to capitalize on his chances. The German had two break points on Gulbis' serve in the ninth game and three break points in 11th game as well.
"I definitely put myself in position to win the match but just didn't do it,'' Haas said. "If I had won one of those (break points) I think I'd have had the match in my favor.''
Gulbis dominated the tiebreaker, securing two minibreaks: a forehand drop shot on the third point and when Haas netted a backhand on the seventh point.