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Gulbis Claims First Clay-Court Title In Nice

Nice, France

Gulbis, Delbonis© Yohan Brandt/Open de Nice Côte d'AzurErnests Gulbis improved to a perfect 6-0 in ATP World Tour finals.

Ernests Gulbis remained perfect in ATP World Tour finals, needing 98 minutes to dispatch Federico Delbonis for the Open de Nice Cote d’Azur title on Saturday. The 6-1, 7-6(5) victory gives Gulbis his sixth trophy in six finals, and his first on clay.

The Latvian, who defeated defending champion Albert Montanes in the semi-finals, improved to 12-4 on clay courts in 2014 with the title, ending the three-year Spanish reign in Nice. He becomes the seventh multiple-title winner this year after prevailing in nearby Marseille, at the Open 13, in February.

Gulbis bolted to a fast start, breaking for a 3-1 lead in the first set before securing the opener in 26 minutes. The 25 year old had his chances to seal the match early in the second set, but was unable to convert on three break points. He would fall behind 2/4 in the ensuing tie-break, but clawed his way back, winning five of the next six points and clinching the win after a Delbonis forehand found the net.

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“I am really happy to win here," said Gulbis, who dedicated the title to a friend from Latvia who recently passed away. “My next goal is to be Top 10, even Top 8. I think if I play well in the Grand Slams, I have a good chance. It’s tough to kick out somebody from the top as there’s a lot of good players but I am working on it.

“I really like the South of France, I’ve repeated it many times, I think I will be coming here on vacation and I think you are going to see me a lot around this area.”

Gulbis, who won 91 per cent of his first serve points and fired 30 winners, is projected to rise to a career-high World No. 17 after receiving 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points and €77,315. Delbonis, who was seeking his second title of the year after triumphing at the Brasil Open 2014, earns 150 points and €40,720 for his efforts.

The seventh seeded Argentine falls to 1-2 in ATP World Tour finals. He will also ascend to a career-high World No. 34 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

"He played well, I didn't start the best way and he broke me twice," said Delbonis. "In the second set I gave my best, it was more equal. I had my chances but couldn't take them because he served well. I'm happy for this week and although this match wasn't the best, I'm happy for playing it."

Gulbis and Delbonis will travel north to Roland Garros for the second Grand Slam of the year. Gulbis opens with Lukasz Kubot, while Delbonis faces Dusan Lajovic in the first round.

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