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Tsitsipas vs Gulbis tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Tsitsipas bids for first title in Stockholm but Gulbis is unbeaten in finals

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 20 Oct 2018
  • Stefanos Tsitsipas takes on Ernests Gulbis in the final of the Stockholm Open 
  • Tsitsipas vs Gulbis is live from Stockholm on Sunday at 3pm local/2pm BST
Stefanos Tsitsipas (ERIK SIMANDER/AFP/Getty Images)

Stefanos Tsitsipas bids to cap his breakthrough season with a first ATP World Tour title as he takes on Ernests Gulbis at the Intrum Stockholm Open on Sunday.

Will it be third time lucky for rising Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas as he contests his third ATP World Tour final of the year – this time against qualifier Ernests Gulbis at the Stockholm 250?

Tsitsipas, who before the start of 2018 had contested and won the merest handful of ATP World Tour-level matches, is now close to the end of what has been a truly brilliant season. This time last year, Tsitsipas was outside the top 100 and making a surprise run to the semifinals of the European Open in Antwerp as a qualifier; he started 2018 down at world no. 95, but made an immediate impact by qualifying for the Qatar ExxonMobil Open and making the quarterfinals at the 250.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (ERIK SIMANDER/AFP/Getty Images)
It was the harbinger of a season which would see the 20-year-old, ten months later, up to world no. 61 in the rankings and playing in his third ATP World Tour final after finishing runner-up at the 500-level Barcelona Open in April and the Canada Masters in Toronto in August, beating four top-10 players at the latter. Tsitsipas also made the semifinals of Estoril and Washington, D.C. to boot, and the round of 16 at Wimbledon; in recent weeks, he’s reached the quarterfinals of the 500 in Tokyo and the round of 16 at the Rolex Shanghai Masters.

Now 48-28 in 2018 and bidding to return to his career-high ranking of world no. 15, which he achieved in August, before the season is out, Tsitsipas has qualified easily for the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan – but he has made no secret of the fact that he has his sights set on the main event, the Nitto ATP Finals in London, instead. Currently in fourteenth place on the Race to London with five players qualified, Tsitsipas’s chances of qualifying have, I believe, been ended, but the story is complicated by the fact that Juan Martin del Potro, one of the five players to have qualified, won’t be playing thanks to his fractured kneecap. In other words, the player in ninth place will qualify as one of the elite eight, while with Rafael Nadal not playing since the US Open, chances look quite good (to me anyway) that the first alternate will also get the chance to play a match in London. It’s unlikely that that will be Tsitsipas but it’s not impossible.

Tsitsipas did succeed in dealing a blow to the chances of Fabio Fognini, who’s above him in twelfth place on the Race to London, when he defeated the Italian in Saturday’s Stockholm semifinals. After beating two good players in John Millman and Philipp Kohlschreiber, Tsitsipas was always in charge against Fognini on Saturday, winning 6-3, 6-2 in 72 minutes; he saved all four break points he faced himself while breaking Fognini three times and won more than half the points played on his opponent’s second serve. 

‘[The key to the match] was to stay patient,’ Tsitsipas said. ‘[Fabio] was going for shots and the beginning of the match was really tough... I was patient in the rallies. That is how I got the win today.’

‘[Fabio] is a player that has been in the top 20 for many years,’ the Greek added. ‘He won many titles this year and has had a fantastic year. This victory has a lot of value to it.’


Into his third final of the year, Tsitsipas’s opponent across the net won’t be Rafael Nadal this time, as it was in Barcelona and Toronto. The world no. 16 might have expected that it would be top seed John Isner – but it’s not him, either: It’s a qualifier, Ernests Gulbis of Latvia.

Ernests Gulbis (ERIK SIMANDER/AFP/Getty Images)
Before anybody gets too excited, this is the part where we point out that Gulbis is no ordinary qualifier. A French Open quarterfinalist all the way back in 2008, Gulbis’s rollercoaster career has seen him win six ATP World Tour titles between 2010 and 2014 – none bigger than a 250, however – and rise as high as world no. 10 in 2014, when he beat Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych to make the semifinals of Roland Garros. But Gulbis had injury issues the following season and exited the top 100. Gulbis’s injury issues would continue, and he missed about seven months of tennis in 2016-17, his ranking falling outside the top 500 (Gulbis beat Juan Martin del Potro in the second round of Wimbledon when ranked that low, helping pull his standing up to world no. 203 where he finished 2017). 

Gulbis has largely spent 2018 in qualifying for ATP events and on the Challenger Tour. Up until Wimbledon, he had earned just one tour-level win that season, a first-round victory over Gilles Muller at the French Open. But he had a great run at Wimbledon, where he qualified for the main draw before beating Jay Clarke, 27th seed Damir Dzumhur and fourth seed Alexander Zverev before losing to Kei Nishikori in four sets in the round of 16. 

Just to make sure nobody got too excited, Gulbis promptly lost his next three matches, lost in the quarterfinals of the Kaohsiung Challenger (to be fair, it was to Gael Monfils) and lost in the first round of qualifying for Chengdu to Egor Gerasimov, currently ranked outside the top 200. But the erratic Latvian has been on the upswing this week in Stockholm, qualifying for the main draw before beating Mikael Ymer and Denis Shapovalov in straight sets before twice coming back from a set down against a pair of American seeds, Jack Sock and John Isner, to make his first ATP World Tour final since Nice in 2014. 

Gulbis, who broke Isner’s serve twice in the third set of their semifinal encounter to record a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory, has a perfect 6-0 record in ATP World Tour finals. He’s also a tremendously formidable player: Tall, strong, an immensely powerful baseliner, equipped with a booming serve and huge, if varyingly reliable, groundstrokes off both wings. He has never played Tsitsipas, but I don’t think there’s much doubt that Gulbis, if playing at a high level, can render the Greek’s more all-court game largely irrelevant with his own unstoppable power. Tsitsipas will have to be patient, aggressive, clever – and most significantly, can’t afford to let Gulbis off the hook if he finds himself playing with a lead. Can Tsitsipas win his first ATP World Tour final by handing Gulbis his first ever defeat in one?

Tsitsipas vs Gulbis Stockholm Open final tennis is live from Stockholm on Sunday at 3pm local/2pm BST

*Geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify


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Tsitsipas vs Gulbis tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Tsitsipas bids for first title in Stockholm but Gulbis is unbeaten in finals

Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Ernests Gulbis live streaming, preview and predictions for the Intrum Stockholm Open final on Sunday 21 October: Qualifier Gulbis holds a perfect 6-0 record in finals, can he postpone Tsitsipas’s first ATP title further?

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