Los Angeles: Latvia's Ernests Gulbis earned the second ATP title of his career Sunday, rallying to upset top-seeded American Mardy Fish 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 to win the $619,500 Los Angeles hardcourt crown.
Gulbis, who arrived in California ranked 84th in the world after a series of lackluster results, denied Fish a second title in as many events after the ninth-ranked American's successful title defence in Atlanta last week.
The 22-year-old Gulbis had played just one previous ATP final, when he won his only title at Delray Beach, Florida, in 2010.
After reaching the semi-finals at Sydney in January he climbed to a career-high ranking of 21 in the world in February, but his first-round victory over fifth-seeded Belgian Xavier Malisse here ended a five-match skid.
Gulbis' lack of finals experience showed when he served for the match at 5-2 in the third set. He opened the game with a double fault en route to dropping his serve.
After Fish held to narrow the gap to 5-4, Gulbis again faced a break point after netting two backhands. Gulbis averted the threat with a drop shot that Fish couldn't quite answer, and he put the match away with a forehand down the line on his first match point.
Both players held serve with confidence through most of a close first set. Gulbis had the first opportunity to break, but Fish held him off in the 11th game.
Fish claimed the set in the next game, giving himself a break chance with a backhand volley winner before Gulbis double-faulted to concede the set.
Gulbis gained the advantage in the second set with a break in the seventh game, setting up break point with a cross-court winner before Fish netted a backhand.
Gulbis went on to claim the set with an ace, then broke a slow-moving Fish in the opening game of the third, and again in the fifth game en route to a 5-1 lead.
Fish was hobbling after the match, but said a sore heel "had zero bearing on the match".
Instead the American admitted he was feeling the wear after his deep runs in two straight tournaments.
"I was tired," Fish admitted. "I've played a lot of matches the past couple months."