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Gulbis upends Karlovic to claim first title

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. -- Ernests Gulbis became the first Latvian to win an ATP Tour title when he upset second-seeded Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 6-2, 6-3 at the Delray Beach International Championships on Sunday.

"Everything I do it's the first for my country," Gulbis said. "I was first one in top 300, first one in top 200, first one in top 100."

Now he's the first one on top.

The 72nd-ranked Gulbis, who never dropped a set all week, will move to a top-40 ranking next week after his first title. He won 45 of 48 service games in five matches played this week.

"I'm never impressed with statistics," said Gulbis, who also reached the Memphis semifinals last week. "I'm impressed I won the title. So I didn't lose a set, I don't see that as a big accomplishment.

"I think winning a title is a big accomplishment."

The 33rd-ranked Karlovic couldn't handle the windy conditions to get his trademark serve in gear on his 31st birthday, losing serve in the fifth and seventh games of the first set, and the third and ninth games of the second set.

Gulbis was the rare player to challenge Karlovic's serve this week, taking advantage of the 6-foot-10 Croatian's second serve by winning 19 of the 26 points played on the shot.

"I would like to thank him for this gift on my birthday," said Karlovic, tongue-in-cheek. "Everything he touched with his racket today was unbelievable, a clean winner."

Karlovic fought off three match points on serve with aces in the final game, but hit two double faults on the final two points to surrender the match.

Gulbis is the second player of the year to win a title in his first final appearance. American John Isner won the Auckland title in his first trip to a final last month.

The Latvian never looked nervous about playing in his first final.

"He was really cool, calm, like nothing could impress him," said Karlovic, who was hoping to win a fifth career title. "This year he's going to make a breakthrough."

Gulbis saved two break points in the fourth game, but otherwise seemed to have every shot in the book -- serves, returns, groundstrokes, volleys, even dropshots.