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Latvia's Ernests Gulbis can go (Mardy) Fish-ing Sunday

July 30, 2011 | 11:06 pm


Ernests Gulbis, a 22-year-old from Latvia, reached his second ATP Tour final by beating 28-year-old American veteran Alex Bogomolov Jr., 6-2, 7-6 (4) in the second semifinal of the Farmers Classic on Saturday night at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.

Gulbis will meet another American veteran and the tournament's top-seeded player, Mardy Fish, in the final on Sunday at 2 p.m. Pacific time. Fish won his Saturday semifinal, 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (3), over 19-year-old American Ryan Harrison.

Gulbis has served the most aces in this tournament (39) and had 10 against Bogomolov. Fish and Gulbis will be playing each other for the first time.

Fish had said that playing against Gulbis will be a matter of who takes over points quickly.

"Gulbis goes for his shots and wants to have the initiative most of the time," Fish said. "I want the initiative, too, I want control."

Gulbis gave credit to his ability to move well and play defense for his success this week. "I'm much more confident playing defense than ever before," said Gulbis, who added that learning to tame his on-court temper has been a help this year. "If you saw me one year ago I broke maybe 60 rackets a year, broke all the rackets for sure.

"For example [Friday], there was a situation, I served for match, deuce point, there was an obvious mistake and one year ago I'd be frustrated and talk to the referree. Now I realize in this situation there's no point in doing something when you can't change it. Afterwards I can think about if he's an idiot and then just have to accept it."

Four years ago Gulbis made it to the fourth round of the U.S. Open in his first appearance. A year later he advanced to the quarterfinals of the French Open and seemed on his way to being the next great tennis star.

"When I reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open and quarters of Roland Garros very early in my career, I didn't appreciate it at all," he said. "I just thought I'd go, go, go and didn't put enough work to maintain the level I was playing. Now I really appreciate appearing, now, in a final. I worked tough for these three weeks before here and I appreciate it much more and will try to maintain it."

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: Ernests Gulbis returns a shot to Alex Bogomolov Jr. in their Farmers Classic semifinal on Friday night. Credit: Kelvin Kuo / US Presswire