Qualifier Simone Bolelli upset world #47 Ernest Gulbis of Latvia in two tiebreak sets in a straight-set victory, 7-6(5) 7-6(5), in the first-round at the PTT Thailand Open 2011 on Tuesday afternoon.
The match was largely a baseline battle. Both players held their opening service games before Bolelli lost the fourth game when he lobbed a ball wide to give the 23-year-old Latvian a 3-1 lead in the opening set.
Gulbis couldn’t maintain the advantage however and was broken back in the seventh game after smashing the ball long to put the set back on serve at 4-3.
Both players then continued to hold serve pushing the set into a tiebreak. The Italian jumped to a 4-0 lead and held on to take the breaker 7-5.
In the second set, Bolelli broke his opponent in the sixth game and held his next service game to go up 5-2. With his back against the wall, Gulbis faced three match points on his serve, but survived all of them. The Latvian finally held his serve on his second game point and then broke Bolelli in the ninth game to get back on serve at 4-5.
The set then followed the pattern of the first with players holding serve to send it into a another tiebreak. While Gulbis was the one holding serve most comfortably in the last few games, it was Bolelli who held on in the breaker with an identical scoreline to the first: 7-5.
Bolelli next plays fast-rising Grigor Dimitrov, who beat #5 seed Ivan Dodig in the first round.
Meanwhile, last year’s finalist Jarkko Nieminen was made to work hard before defeating the youngest player in the tournament, Dominic Thiem of Austria, in three sets, 6-1 4-6 7-5.
The 18-year-old Austian, ranked #1848 in the world, was playing just his second career ATP World Tour main draw match. His previous tournament was in Kitzbuehel last month.
With the victory, Nieminen has extended his winning record in Bangkok to 14-5. The Finnish veteran will meet Dutchman Robin Haase in the second round.
Other first-round winners in Tuesday’s day session were Germans Michael Berrer and Matthias Bachinger, both beating qualifiers in straight sets.
Berrer ousted Swiss Marco Chiudinelli 7-6(4) 6-3 to set up a second-round encounter against top seed Andy Murray. Bachinger saw off Greg Jones of Australian in a 7-5 6-4 victory and will play local favourite Danai Udomchoke in the next round.
In the Doubles first round, Thai duo Weerapat Doakmaiklee and Sonchat Ratiwattana crashed out as they lost to German-Colombian pair Tobias Kamke and Santiago Giraldo in a competitive 7-5 7-6(4) defeat.
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