Jul/17

6

Wimbledon Shocker: Gulbis KO’s Del Potro

Flickr_-_Carine06_-_Ernests_Gulbis

Ernests Gulbis, largely forgotten on the ATP World Tour after his ranking dropped over 500 spots in the last year, has resurrected his career this week with double straight set wins vs Victor Estrella Burgos and Juan Martin Del Potro today at Wimbledon.

A year ago Gulbis was ranked in the 60s and reached the fourth round at Roland Garros, losing to Goffin. Since then it has been a disaster for the 28 year old Gulbis who before this week had not won a single ATP Tour level match all year and since Paris last year.

Somehow the now bearded Gulbis, still sponsored by Adidas and Wilson, gained entry in the Wimbledon main draw despite his ranking of 589 and boy has he maximized the opportunity. The veteran has restructured his forehand again and used it to blast out Estrella, losing a total of five games in three sets.

Today was the real test though, with a resurgent Del Potro coming off a strong win vs Thanasi Kokkinakis in the first round.

But Gulbis was up to the daunting task and overpowered Del Potro, a former semifinalist at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club. Gulbis served big and showed off his baseline power to win the first two sets 64 64.

Gulbis rolled to a 4-2 lead in the third but Del Potro rallied with a challenge and leveled it at 5-5. It would have been reasonable to expect Gulbis to crack under the heavy pressure of the situation – playing a major again against a top player but Gulbis showed no signs of withering.

There was even one rally late in the set where Gulbis traded blows with his backhand cross court against the vaunted Del Potro forehand inside out. It was Del Potro who blinked and went for too much of an angle missing it just wide.

In the tiebreaker it was Gulbis’s serving and power which kept Del Potro off balance. On his first match point at 6-3, Gulbis fired an unreturnable serve down the tee.

Del Potro dipped his head. He was clearly the inferior player on this day. Gulbis showed no reaction given the importance of the situation. He shook his right hand holding his Wilson and brought the racquet head to his chest. As subdued a reaction as you will ever see of a thought to be destroyed player who just proved again he can be a contender for major titles.

The former French Open semifinalist who has won six ATP singles titles in six tries, will play Djokovic in the third round. The same Djokovic who beat him in the Paris semi and who owns a 6-1 record against him, though Gulbis did have a match point in one of those losses in Cincinnati.

Gulbis has the power and the weaponry to cause Djokovic problems on the grass, just like Sam Querrey did last year. So it will be most interesting to see if Gulbis can continue this astonishing and inspiring rejuvenation at Wimbledon which no expert or pundit saw coming.

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130 comments

  • catherine · July 9, 2017 at 9:22 am

    catherine writes:

    Harrt – I agree there – was about to mention Federer – I've never heard him grunt above normal exhalation. Does Kerber grunt ? I don't think so, not abnormally. Maybe she should try. And I never heard players of earlier generations grunt. Did Steffi ? Never heard her. And in other sports – I follow cricket and fast bowlers don't grunt, neither do batsmen on the whole, except for showmanship. So we'll see when Azarenka plays Simona – battle of the grunts.

  • Andrew Miller · July 9, 2017 at 10:07 am

    Andrew Miller writes:

    For Querrey vs Kevin Anderson, I'll take whoever wants the match more. I have no idea who that is. Both have the ability to rescue defeat from the jaws of victory.

  • Hartt · July 9, 2017 at 10:12 am

    Hartt writes:

    Catherine, am just watching Kerber vs Rogers which I recorded. Kerber makes a small sound when she hits, but it is not loud enough to be a grunt – she is fine. It is interesting that in a recent interview Fed was asked about differences between Rafa and him. This was one of the things that Roger mentioned, Rafa grunts and he doesn't.

  • scoopmalinowski · July 9, 2017 at 11:30 am

    scoopmalinowski writes:

    Hartt; Fed does grunt sometimes. Kerber was grunting a lot vs Shelby. Grunting works and helps heighten intensity and focus and timing.

  • scoopmalinowski · July 9, 2017 at 11:32 am

    scoopmalinowski writes:

    Andrew; better bh, Q or Sock?

  • catherine · July 9, 2017 at 11:48 am

    catherine writes:

    Hartt – I mostly watch tennis with the sound turned down because I can't stand the gabbling, so thanks for the info on Angie – so I watched some clips of her matches with the sound on and she seems to make a normal type of grunt which I suppose is inevitable when you are heaving the ball all over the court. Not in the Sharapova class though :)

  • Hartt · July 9, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    Hartt writes:

    I guess my definition of a grunt is that it is loud. Yes, Kerber does make a sound when she hits the ball, sometimes louder than other times. But to me it is not a real grunt. But, as I said, I have my own definition!

  • catherine · July 9, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    catherine writes:

    Prediction business is a hiding to nothing so I'll just make a couple: Women: tomorrow Kerber will lose her number one ranking and Simona will succeed to it. Men: Nadal, Federer and Djokovic will be there at the day's end.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 9, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Hartt; Yes I think if Fed brought out his inner Rogimal and played with the emotional ferocity of Rafa Hewitt and Serena he would BE EVEN BETTER. But Fed plays like a gentleman and he is still great. Rogimal would be even GREATER :)

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 9, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    I heard Fed grunt softly in a few big matches in majors. He does it on occasion but rarely.

  • Andrew Miller · July 9, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    Andrew Miller writes:

    Scoop, Sock has a backhand? Could have sworn he didn't ;)

  • Andrew Miller · July 9, 2017 at 10:46 pm

    Andrew Miller writes:

    Fognini is great when he's playing well. Murray played well to beat him.

  • Hartt · July 9, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    Hartt writes:

    I agree with the comments in "The Rogimal" article. Roger plays his best by staying true to his nature.

  • catherine · July 10, 2017 at 1:50 am

    catherine writes:

    Everyone does everything best when they are staying true to their natures. Even if those natures are bad.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 10, 2017 at 6:44 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Gentleman Todd Martin was down two sets to Moya at us open. Then he turned into Todd Martinimal. Yelling fist pumps bulging eyes..guess what? He won in five. And did a lap of ashe high fiving fans. Fans loved it. Fed fans would celebrate anything Fed does. They have his back. He can do no wrong.

  • britbox · July 10, 2017 at 7:14 am

    Disagree Scoop – Roger's poker face works in his favour. Mr & Mrs Federer Senior killed the brat tendency after a few smashed racquets when he was a kid.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 10, 2017 at 7:38 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Britbox; Fed does not have to be a brat about it, just good clean fire. Like Anginimal which suddenly came out in her last match down a set and 3-4 30-all to Rogers. Now Angie Kerber is a beast and she just won first set vs Muguruza who she had lost four matches in a row to. Kerber is now at a new level since she became Anginimal. She is not a brat about it just super intense. Fed could be more super intense and I believe it would take him to a new level. He has a calm and cool exterior but deep down Federer is crazy. Michael Llodra told me this for Facing Federer. He told me five times in a row "Federer is crazy, I know him since junior, he is crazy. But he has you all fooled." If Federer taps into his crazy Rogimal (for lack of a better nickname) he would go to a new level. Kerber is proving it right now.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 10, 2017 at 7:46 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Catherine; Are you saying Fed can't get super intense with the double fists and yelling like Kerber is doing right now? Look how it changed her year and career. Kerber is on fire right now. Fed could learn and be inspired by Kerber's sudden super intensity. Kerber is the favorite now to win the title. All because she dug down deep and summoned her inner Anginimal :)

  • catherine · July 10, 2017 at 9:11 am

    catherine writes:

    She's not a the favourite anymore Scoop – just gone out in 3 sets to Muguruza. Disappointing but my prediction came true. So the No 1 is lifted off her shoulders – let's see if that releases the true super intensity.

  • catherine · July 10, 2017 at 9:15 am

    catherine writes:

    A few tears I think from Angie in private – but a good fight and an upward trend from the depths of her past few months.

  • catherine · July 10, 2017 at 9:17 am

    catherine writes:

    And the much heralded Konjuh gone in ss to Venus Williams.

  • catherine · July 10, 2017 at 9:45 am

    catherine writes:

    Make that 'epic' fight – deservedly.

  • catherine · July 10, 2017 at 10:41 am

    catherine writes:

    And one for Andrew's collection – the most perfunctory handshake between Muguruza and Kerber. Angie barely looked at her. Either just unbearable disappointment on A's part or a major frost between them. Simona cruising…..

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 10, 2017 at 10:44 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Kerber played incredible today. Unbelievable high level tennis. Muguruza just was unbeatable. Genius tennis by both. Ostapenko vs Svitolina was fantastic too. Wow. Wta tennis is shining today.

  • catherine · July 10, 2017 at 10:54 am

    catherine writes:

    Yes – Kerber has found herself again. No 1 just doesn't matter.

  • Chazz · July 10, 2017 at 11:32 am

    Chazz writes:

    QBall just blew 4 match pints in the 4th set tiebreaker and lost it 13-11 and we are headed to a 5th set.

  • catherine · July 10, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    Huh ?

  • Andrew Miller · July 10, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    An intense Kerber lost. A mum Federer dominated. I think Federer is plenty intense.

  • Scoop Malinowski · July 10, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Andrew: Surely Fed is intense – all top pros are. But most internalize it. I think it's an advantage to express it.

  • catherine · July 11, 2017 at 2:01 am

    Players show intensity in different ways. Angie somehow discovered how to match her intensity on the practice court with belief in herself in the match. She believed she could compete again.
    But she’s lost to Garbine so many times – maybe she couldn’t quite forget that.

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