Ernests Gulbis upsets Roger Federer to reach French Open quarters
(USA Today) PARIS — Playing the bold brand of tennis that has propelled his resurgence the last 20 months, No. 18 seed Ernests Gulbis upset fourth-seeded Roger Federer to advance to his second quarterfinal at the French Open on Sunday.
The Latvian's 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 fourth-round victory ended 2009 champion Federer's bid reach the Roland Garros quarterfinals for a 10th consecutive year.
The 32-year-old Swiss also remains tied in first place with Jimmy Connors at 41 Grand Slam quarterfinal appearances.
"I've been playing very well in France," said Gulbis on court shortly after the 3 hour, 42-minute contest, apologizing for beating fan-favorite Federer. "I won tournaments in Marseille and Nice (in 2014). Hopefully Paris is the next one."
Gulbis made his only other last eight at a major here in 2008.
Federer often looked flustered by his play as the match wore on, but had his chances. After coming back from 3-5 in the opening-set tiebreaker, he served for the second set but could not convert two set points.
An emboldened Gulbis, with plenty of firepower of his own, then started to dictate from the baseline and on serve.
He broke in the second game of the final set and never looked back, closing it out when Federer sent a backhand wide.
Gulbis hit more aces (13-7), winners (53-42) and fewer unforced errors (53-59) than Federer, while converting seven of 12 break point opportunities.
In 2013, Federer suffered through his worst season in a decade due to nagging back problems and some cracks in his confidence.
After hiring six-time Grand Slam champion Stefan Edberg of Sweden as a part-time coach this year and switching to a larger racket frame, he has rebounded strongly.
He reached the Australian open semifinals, losing to No. 1 Rafael Nadal, won his 78thATP Tour title at Dubai and entered Sunday's contest with the second most wins on tour (31) after only Nadal (37).
His defeat will not sit well with the French supporters that adore his elegant style but it is hardly a seismic upset.
Clay has been Federer's least successful surface, accounting for just one of his record 17 major championships. His last was at Wimbledon in 2012.
Explosive with his shots and his temper, Gulbis was on the cusp of the top 20 before injuries and apathy sent his ranking plummeting to outside the top 150.
But under the tutelage of coach Gunther Bresnik, he has rediscovered his form and commitment and entered the tournament at a career-high No. 17 ranking.
Known for speaking his mind and occasionally putting his foot in his mouth, Gulbis has not disappointed in Paris.
Two days ago he raised eyebrows by saying he preferred his two younger half sisters not play tennis because a woman "needs to think about kids."
But the Latvian, who comes from a wealthy background, is letting his racket do most of the talking.
Gulbis next faces No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, who earlier beat American John Isner 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.