We all know it has not been a good year for the much touted Ernests Gulbis. Judging by his age and the progress of his peers - people like Marin Cilic and Juan Martin del Potro - this should have been his career year. Instead, he hasn't been able to string two wins together and people have been jumping off the Ernie bandwagon in droves.
Even me, a faithful Ernie fan, cannot deny that it's been hard to believe in him this year. But you know what? I think, at last, he might be starting to show signs of life again. He started the year with a bang by beating Djokovic, and then has fizzled ever since. However, he played Jo-Willy Tsonga unbelievably tight last week, in a match that had no breaks of serve. And now, after coming through qualifying (thus necessitating the stringing of a few wins together) he's gone and beat himself a seed.
And not just any seed either. #6 seed, the notoriously tricky Radek Stepanek.
Sure, it's not the greatest win the history of the world. Stepanek isn't exactly Federer or Nadal. But he's a tough player and to beat him in reasonably straightforward straights like Ernie did is pretty good. That, coupled with the performance he put in last week against Jo-Dub, is making me think that something might be firing up in the Ernie tank. He said he gained more muscle and it messed with his game, a la Jankovic. I'm not sure what, if anything, he's doing different now, but here's hoping, Ernie, that you're here to stay.
And please - it would make my YEAR if you'd just win your next match, so you can say you've won two tour level matches in a row this year!
China Open (Beijing)
Novak Djokovic def. Viktor Troicki, 6-3 6-0
Nikolay Davydenko def. Philipp Kohlschreiber, 6-1 6-0
Fernando Verdasco def. Juan Carlos Ferrero, 7-5 6-4
Marin Cilic def. Julien Benneteau, 6-2 2-6 6-0
Peng Shuai def. Maria Sharapova, 6-2 6-4
Elena Dementieva def. Li Na, 6-2 6-0
Svetlana Kuznetsova def. Alona Bondarenko, 6-3 4-6 6-0
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova def. Aleksandra Wozniak, 6-4 6-4
Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships (Tokyo)
Gael Monfils def. Marco Chiudinelli, 7-6 (7-5) 6-3
Stanislas Wawrinka def. Simon Greul, 6-3 6-2
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga def. Mischa Zverev, 6-4 6-3
Ernests Gulbis def. Radek Stepanek, 6-4 6-4
Mikhail Youzhny def. Thomaz Bellucci, 6-2 6-3
Andreas Beck def. Rainer Schuettler, 6-3 4-6 7-6 (7-3)
Juan Monaco def. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, 5-0 retired
Richard Gasquet def. Philipp Petzschner, 6-3 6-2
3 weeks ago