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Gulbis Stuns Federer To Reach QFs

Paris, France

Gulbis© AFP/Getty ImagesErnests Gulbis will contest his second Grand Slam quarter-final.

Ernests Gulbis claimed the biggest win of his career on Sunday as he stunned Roger Federer 6-7(5), 7-6(3), 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the Roland Garros quarter-finals.

“It’s the biggest win of my career,” Gulbis told Cedric Pioline in an on-court interview. “Sorry I had to win. I know how everyone likes Roger. It was a tough match but this is sport. I’ve been playing very well in France. I won tournaments in Marseille and Nice, hopefully Paris is the next one.

"For my confidence and just for me as a tennis player, a five-set win over Roger Federer, it's really big. Hopefully it's going to change me that I become more confident about myself, you know, on a tennis court."

The Latvian is through to his second Grand Slam quarter-final, with his first also coming at Roland Garros six years ago (l. to Djokovic). He will face Czech Tomas Berdych, against whom he has a 2-4 FedEx ATP Head2Head record, losing their past two meetings.

Richard Gasquet, Sebastien Grosjean and 2003 champion Juan Carlos Ferrero watched on as victory for Gulbis ended Federer’s run of Roland Garros quarter-final appearances at nine straight. The Swiss completed the career Grand Slam when he lifted the trophy in Paris in 2009 (d. Soderling). 

Watch Gulbis Profile

It is only the third time in the past 40 majors that Federer has failed to reach the quarter-finals, with the other two defeats coming last year at Wimbledon (second round vs. Sergiy Stakhovsky) and the US Open (fourth round vs. Tommy Robredo).

Federer had the chance to take a commanding two-set lead over Gulbis, but squandered a 40/15 advantage when serving at 5-3 as Gulbis fought back to level the match. The 18th-seeded Latvian broke Federer twice to take the third set but, after leaving the court before the start of the fourth set, Federer came back re-focused and took the match to a decider.

Gulbis went up an early break in the fifth set and afforded Federer no opportunity to get back level. Gulbis held his nerve in the ninth game and served out the match to 15, claiming victory in three hours and 42 minutes.

"The plan was to play more to his backhand and then with my backhand down the line to go for down the line shots," said Gulbis. "That was the main plan, to not go too much to his forehand, because he has the nicest and the most dangerous forehand I think in the world.

"He's also a human being," said Gulbis. "I had more or less a clear game plan. I had to play on his backhand and from the backhand he makes these unforced errors. When it's a tight moment [at the start of the fifth set], he's Roger Federer, but he also gets tight. I remember actually he missed the forehand wide when he was going for the shot, and that happens. He's probably going to make seven out of 10. Other guys are going to make two out of 10. Mistakes happen."

"I'm clearly very disappointed not to come through with the win," said Federer. "After the chance in the second set, fighting back in the fourth, not to play a better fifth set. There are a lot of regrets here now. But I think Gulbis did a good job of hanging around and clearly coming back in that second set was crucial for him, I think. It was a tough match and I'm disappointed I lost it."

World No. 17 Gulbis is on an eight-match winning streak, having come into Roland Garros on the back of victory in Nice last week (d. Delbonis). He was also victorious earlier in the season in Marseille, where he defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. He has a 31-10 match record in 2014.

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