Gulbis, Errani, Niculescu, Pliskova Win ATP/WTA Titles; X-Notes
Qualifier Gulbis Wins 2nd Delray Beach Title
It wasn’t exactly the final tournament organizers were envisioning at the beginning of the week.
On Sunday qualifier Ernests Gulbis defeated Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6(3), 6-3 in a final featuring two players ranked outside the Top 100 for his second career ATP Delray Beach title.
It was the first time two players outside the Top 100 playing in an ATP final since Houston in 2007 when No. 108-ranked Ivo Karlovic beat No. 150 Marinao Zabaleta.
Gulbis is the first qualifier to win an ATP title since Jarkko Nieminen at Sydney in January 2011. Gulbis improved to 3-0 career in ATP finals, adding to his 2010 Delray title. Roger-Vasselin was appearing in his first career final.
Red-hot Errani Bakes Bagel in Acapulco Final
Top seed Sara Errani avenged a first-round loss to Carla Suarez Navarro in the first round of the Australian Open in January, on Saturday defeating the Spaniard 6-0, 6-4 in the final of the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL in Acapulco.
“In the first set the ball was much more live and the points were going much quicker, and I just played an incredible set,” Errani said after claiming her first title of the year, and claiming her 18th match win of the season, tops on tour. “Even in the second set until 2-0 for me, 15-40 on her serve, I was in control, playing very aggressively. But the ball started getting heavier and the rallies were getting much tougher, and also she started to play much better. It got very difficult at the end.”
It was also the first career title defense for the Italian after winning Acapulco in 2012. It was Errani’s seventh career title. “I have no reason to be sad — she just played better than me,” said Suarez Navarro, who fell to 0-4 in career finals. “She was unbeatable tonight.”
Niculescu Wins 1st WTA Title at Brasil Open
Monica Niculescu outlasted Olga Puchkova 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in the final of the inaugural WTA Brasil Tennis Cup in Florianopolis for her first WTA title.
“I was very tired and she was playing very well — it got very tough at the end,” the Romanian said. “But I just kept fighting. I knew I had to be more aggressive but still think a lot on the court, and I was able to gain control of the match at the end again.”
Puchkova toppled No. 1 seed Venus Williams in the semifinals.
Pliskova Wins 1st WTA Title at Kuala Lumpur
Karolina Pliskova captured her first WTA title at the BMW Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, defeating veteran American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 1-6, 7-5, 6-3.
After Mattek-Sands raced through the first set, Pliskova’s serve came on line and there were only a couple key breaks throughout the rest of the match. In the third set Pliskova broke midway through the set and rode out the break for the match.
Pliskova did not drop a set en route to the final, reaching her first career semifinal at the WTA level during the week. Next week she is projected to break into the Top 100 for the first time. Mattek-Sands beat three seeds during the week. “I’ve been using my serve really well and attacking returns, and my game is definitely going in the right direction,” said the American, who fell to 0-4 in career finals.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
SERENA ROBBED? – Serena Williams’ boyfriend and coach Patrick Mouratoglou says his girlfriend was robbed of the 2012 year-end ranking, and the WTA Rankings need a fix: “I don’t know if she cared [about the year-end ranking] but it was a bit shocking. Nothing against [year-end No. 1 Victoria] Azarenka, who had an unbelievable year too, but it’s a bit shocking to win two Grand Slams, the Olympics and the Masters plus some other tournaments — Serena won Madrid, Stanford, and Charleston too — and to be still No. 3. So people are saying maybe the WTA should look at how they give the points. There is a huge difference between being a finalist in a Grand Slam and a winner and maybe the points don’t show how much difference. Maybe they should have a look at it. I understand that they want players to play all the year, but for the people who watch it’s important to be able to understand tennis.”
HAAS WANTS TO GET CRAZY – Tommy Haas didn’t like the hysterics of Igor Sijsling hitting balls into the stands and melting down in their match at Delray Beach — until he did. “What a strange match,” Haas said. “At 4-all, first point, I saw him falling to the ground. Sometimes you don’t know how to react when someone is injured, but he looked like he was in pain. The first couple of points went my way and he started to smash balls out of the stadium and hit a spectator. You never want to win a match like that. It’s not a proud win for me.” But then Haas started to ruminate on his bad-boy fantasies. “I’ve never been defaulted in my life,” he said. “It’s stupid to say, that it was always a goal of mine to make it happen once. I must be doing something wrong. I haven’t gone crazy enough yet. That’s a statement for me to say that, right? I walked off the court and I sort of had to smile. It’s funny. It just shows you how crazy most of the personalities can be in tennis, just to see him go that crazy.”
U.S.-BRAZIL BRAWL – Things got testy and weird a few weeks back during the U.S. vs. Brazil Davis Cup tie in Jacksonville last week. The Brazilian fans seemed rowdier amidst the small crowds in Jacksonville, and the Brazilian player bench produced oddities throughout the weekend. After losing the first singles match on Sunday, U.S. player John Isner said of Brazil, “Not only their actual fans, but the guys on the [Brazil] bench are saying stuff. I don’t think there’s any room for that. I’m not going to sugarcoat this. I don’t appreciate their fans at all. I think they’re very rude.” Brazilian doubles player Marcelo Melo shot back after the tie, “Isner should stop crying. Our fans did nothing untoward and supported us like any other fans would. This isn’t the sort of behavior of a professional. Our fans were doing what they should do, encouraging us from the beginning until the end.” In the Saturday doubles the American Bryan brothers had to be separated from the Brazilian bench by security officials, with the Bryans and the Brazilian bench in each others’ faces. Both teams seemed ready to instigate — the Bryans yelling in their opponents’ ears after winning points with all four players at the net, and coaches on the Brazil bench standing and shouting at the Bryans when on their side of the court. The Brazilian fans for their part on Sunday brought horns and extra noise-makers to shake-up the U.S. players when on the same side of the court as the Brazilian bench. Adding to the oddities, during Sunday play a fist fight broke out between two men (coaches?) on the Brazilian bench, with security breaking it up and moving one of the combatants. While the crowds didn’t show up for the star-less tie, there was no lack of drama in Jacksonville as U.S. player Sam Querrey dropped the first set in the fifth and deciding match to Challenger-level player Thiago Alves, but rebounded to seal the tie for the U.S. in four sets.
Nadia Petrova dished on the leaders and losers on the WTA Tour to Sport Express Russia: “Those [like Sara Errani] who play such boring tennis, mostly relying on errors from their opponents, don’t stay in the elite for a long time. I prefer a different style. Serena [Williams] is such an important figure for our sport. There really aren’t that many really outstanding personalities in women’s tennis. For example, Agnieszka Radwanska is playing well, but still is not the best. Vika Azarenka, admittedly, not all see her as the leader of our tour. [Petra] Kvitova, [Sam] Stosur, [Angelique] Kerber — great players. But Serena is only comparable to Maria Sharapova. There has been average play from Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens.”…Ernests Gulbis in Delray Beach on dropping out of the Top 100 and making a comeback (from, we guess, just being rich and f*****g around): “I was really getting pissed to see who’s in the Top 100. There are some guys who I don’t know who they are. Some guys, I’m sorry, with respect — they can’t play tennis. I don’t know how they got into the Top 100. It’s tough, but I think I’m much better than them and I just want to prove to myself by the rankings, also. It’s a motivation.”…Former world No. 4 Nicoals Keifer of Germany is Maria Sharapova’s new hitting partner for the next twoweeks, replacing regular partner Vladimir “The Vldiator” Voltchkov, who injured his ankle. If Keifer were tour-fit he could probably give Masha the doubles alleys and still win 0-0…Brooklyn Decker speaking to stylecaster.com on not spending Valentine’s Day with husband Andy Roddick: “Well, Valentine’s Day always falls over the same week as the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue reveal, so I’ve been with my girlfriends on Valentine’s Day for the past six years. It’s actually a really fun way to spend the day! Andy and I aren’t huge celebrators — I haven’t gotten him a great present, I should work on that!”…Marion Bartoli hired fellow Frenchwoman and former No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo as her part-time coach, and says a big part of the partnership will be getting her fit.
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