Ernests Gulbis and Roger Federer will square off for a chance to advance to the quarterfinal of the 2014 French Open. Federer is 2-1 in his three matches against Gulbis in his career.
This is just the third time in Gulbis’ career that he’s reached at least the fourth round of a Grand Slam in his career. The furthest Gulbis has ever reached was the quarterfinal in the 2008 French Open. Gulbis has won 12 of 13 sets played in this tournament, with his most recent win coming against Radek Stepanek in straight sets. Gulbis is a 25-year-old shot maker who plays an up-tempo game and relies mainly on a baseline playing style and a strong backhand. Gulbis also has one of the stronger serves left in the tournament. Gulbis has won seven straight matches.
Federer has bounced back from a shockingly quick exit in Rome by winning 12 of 13 sets in this tournament. Federer’s strongest competition so far came against Dmitry Tursunov, a matchup he won in four sets. Federer is clearly on the downside of his career with two losses in his last five matches, however, he’s only been eliminated before the quarterfinals twice in a Grand Slam since 2004. Those two quick exits came in last year’s Wimbledon and US Open. Still, Federer is no pushover and still has the heart of a champion and wants to prove he still has a little something left in the tank.
This is a tricky matchup because Federer clearly isn’t the same player he was a few years ago and Gulbis has had success against him. Granted, all three of those matches were back in 2010, but two of them took place on clay, and Gulbis won one and took the other match to three sets. I think it’s fair to say that Federer’s game has decreased and Gulbis has only improved since then.
This is a huge match that could put Gulbis on the map. And while he hasn’t had great success in a Grand Slam, he has the tools and the stamina to give the older Federer fits.
Call me crazy, but I’ll take my chances on Gulbis pulling off the upset.