US Open 2014 – Ernests Gulbis: “I completely swap his rhythm and his vision of the court” - UBITENNIS
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US Open 2014 – Ernests Gulbis: “I completely swap his rhythm and his vision of the court”

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TENNIS US OPEN 2014 – 27th of August 2014. E. Gulbis d. K. DeSchepper 6-1, 6-4, 6-2. An interview with Ernests Gulbis

 

Q. Pretty relatively easy time returning a big server. Only one ace.

ERNSTS GULBIS: I played with him in Queen’s. He served much, much better. But it helped me that we played in evening. Especially in the end of the second set, when it just became dark, when the light started to be a little bit stronger, when you toss the ball you lose it a little bit for a while. I think that’s his biggest problem, so that’s why he serves a lot of double-faults. Also I felt if I change a little bit the position of my return, I completely swap his rhythm and his vision of the court, so…

Q. It worked.

ERNSTS GULBIS: It worked (smiling).

Q. What has Gunter brought to you specifically for this tournament?

ERNSTS GULBIS: For this tournament? Nothing (laughter). We were practicing really hard because I skipped the tournament after Wimbledon. I took some time off because I needed it. After Paris probably I didn’t feel it at the first, but probably a little bit overexcited after that result. So I needed some time off. I took two weeks off and then I started to practice. We had a good mid-season preparation, similar stuff we did in the end of the season. In November and December, we did similar stuff now. I hoped for better results in Toronto and Cincinnati, but my game just wasn’t there. So here the first couple days of practice I was struggling a lot with my game. Yesterday I took a day off. Today before the match, you know, I started to hit the ball really well. It’s in the last moment basically the game came together.

Q. All because of Gunter?

ERNSTS GULBIS: If you say so. I have no problem with that. I’m looking for result. Whoever makes it happen, it’s good.

Q. On the technical side of your forehand, I know…

ERNSTS GULBIS: I have no idea. Honestly, I have no idea (smiling).

Q. I know you haven’t maybe broken it down or don’t think about it, you just do what you do.

ERNSTS GULBIS: You’re right. You have the answer already (laughter).

Q. Here is my question specifically. If you have no answer, you have no answer.

ERNSTS GULBIS: Okay.

Q. You start here, but before you hit, you take it to where everybody else does right in here with the elbow in.

ERNSTS GULBIS: Basically for style. What I do here is just for style (laughter).

Q. Just for style points?

ERNSTS GULBIS: Yeah, just to be different.

Q. How did that come about? Did you one day just start doing that?

ERNSTS GULBIS: You play the best tennis when you don’t think. It’s simple. Whatever comes out, comes out.

Q. Your coach didn’t say, What the heck are you doing?

ERNSTS GULBIS: No. He likes my forehand. I like my forehand.

Q. It’s a cool forehand. It’s unusual. Maybe some coaches would have said something.

ERNSTS GULBIS: No, no, no. I just pay no attention to it. I play like I feel. Again, the best is when you play from your subconscious and when you don’t think. You cannot think on court. You don’t have time. You just have to react. And, yeah, technique. You can work on certain things, but I definitely didn’t work that my forehand looks specifically or better or worse.

Q. What did you learn about winning six matches at the French, or playing six matches?

ERNSTS GULBIS: The biggest lesson I learned was that in semifinal against Novak that he felt similar to me. You know, it wasn’t that I walked up on court against somebody who is overwhelming me with confidence. He’s been there a lot of time. But anyway, every time is something different. Every semifinal, every final is something different. Final I never was, so I wish that I can experience that. But just to understand that you can be on the same level, that was the biggest lesson. Because I was feeling extremely tired because of the heat and because of the condition that day, because it was really humid and hot the first day of the whole two weeks. He felt the same. The first two sets I lost. I thought, That’s it. The guy is a machine. But in the third set I saw him already breaking down the same as I did. So that’s it about me. Yeah, even more confidence.

Q. A question about your formal education. When did you stop attending school on a regular basis? Did you finish the equivalent of high school independently?

ERNSTS GULBIS: Yeah. Well, I was going to school on a pretty regular basis until grade nine, so that means after nine years. The last three years of school I did in a sports school where I just had to do all the exams and all the studies. Like let’s say you have points what you need to get. So, yeah, last three years. Last three years was different. But in the end anyway, you have to make all the exams and all the tests. By Latvian law, you have to make it just to get a diploma, same as everybody else. It’s just I was lacking just the school time, you know, just lessons. But I was taking private teachers. It is different. It is different and difficult at times. My mother was very strict about me studying and not putting it aside.

Q. In a match specifically.

ERNSTS GULBIS: In a match specifically? No. In a match specifically, I don’t think so. In the life on road, life on tour, you know, the less you think, it’s easier. You don’t think, you just do. You wake up in the morning, you go to practice, you eat, you sleep. It’s just part of a routine. When you start to question yourself, Why am I doing this? What are my true goals in life? What is my true motivation? Then you start to question, Why am I doing this? I’m going to be 30 years old, and I’m still warming up like a 10-year-old kid, you know, playing balls, running around. Why? For what? For example, for me I have to remind myself What is my true motivation.

Q. I remember an interview with you talking about Dominic. You said you were giving him a lot of advice. It was some time ago. What is your relationship now? Are you a teacher for him?

ERNSTS GULBIS: I never said that I’m teacher, but we have a good relation. He gave a lot to me by helping me to practice. Because if I see young guy who is so motivated and so eager to practice, you know, let’s say I have to be not worse than him, so I push myself even more through that. When he saw me pushing more, then he was pushing more. It’s a win-win situation.

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Canada Daily Preview: A Huge Day of Action Headlined by Serena/Bencic and Medvedev/Kyrgios

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Serena Williams on Monday in Toronto (twitter.com/NBOtoronto)

On Tuesday, Serena Williams announced her retirement from the sport in a poignant essay.  With only a month left before one of the greatest players of all-time retires, Serena will play only her third match in the past 14 months on Wednesday, as she faces fellow Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic.

 

In Montreal, the two ATP singles champions from last week will collide, as Los Cabos champ and world No.1 Daniil Medvedev takes on Washington champ and Wimbledon finalist Nick Kyrgios

Those are just two of a plethora of high-profile second round matches on Wednesday.  Overall seven of the WTA top 10 and six of the ATP top 10 will be in action in a jam-packed day of tennis.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Wednesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time in both Toronto and Montreal.


Daniil Medvedev (1) vs. Nick Kyrgios – Not Before 1:00pm on Court Central in Montreal

Medvedev did not drop a set during his title run last week in Mexico, and is the defending champion of this event.  But Kyrgios is having the best summer of his career.  He’s now claimed 12 of his last 13 matches, which of course includes his first Major singles final at Wimbledon.  And Nick is 2-1 against Daniil, though they’ve split two hard court meetings.  Three years ago in the final of Washington, Kyrgios prevailed thanks to two tiebreaks.  But at this year’s Australian Open, Medvedev was victorious in four.  Last year at this tournament, Daniil defeated a few other big servers such as Hubi Hurkacz, John Isner, and Reilly Opelka.  On Wednesday, his defensive skills may again prove to diffuse Nick’s serving prowess.  And as seen in the Wimbledon final, Kyrgios can get easily frustrated by opponents who can play elite-level defense.


Belinda Bencic (12) vs. Serena Williams – Not Before 7:00pm on Centre Court on Toronto

These next few weeks will be the last in perhaps the most remarkable career in tennis history.  Serena has said she does not want a lot of fanfare surrounding her last tournaments, but fans will surely be clamoring to see the all-time great one last time.  In just her third match this year, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist in women’s singles faces the most recent gold medalist.  Bencic is now 28-13 this season, and two of her best results this season have come in the US.  She was a semifinalist in Miami, and the champion in Charleston.  Serena is 2-1 against Belinda, though Bencic’s only victory occurred in this same city seven years ago, when the Swiss star won this title as an 18-year-old.  Williams played some good tennis during her straight-set victory on Monday, and both players will assumedly be quite nervous knowing this is one of Serena’s final matches.  But considering Williams has not defeated a top 20 player since the 2021 Australian Open, Bencic should be favored on this day.  Regardless, this opportunity to watch Serena compete will be cherished by her millions of fans.


Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Ajla Tomljanovic – Swiatek is now 48-5 on the year, and has won her last three hard court tournaments dating back to February (Doha, Indian Wells, Miami).  Tomljanovic reached her second consecutive Wimbledon quarterfinal last month.  Their only previous meeting also occurred in Toronto, when three years ago the Australian retired after only five games.

Elena Rybakina vs. Coco Gauff (10) – The new Wimbledon champion played for a full three hours on Tuesday, eventually defeating Marie Bouzkova 6-1 in the third.  On the same day, Gauff dropped only four games to fellow American Madison Brengle. 

Tommy Paul vs. Carlos Alcaraz – Alcaraz is now 42-7 in 2022, and is coming off back-to-back finals at clay events in Europe.  Paul has accumulated 25 wins of his own this season, 16 of which have come on hard courts.

Beatriz Haddad Maia vs. Leylah Fernandez (13) – Fernandez gritted her way to a three-set victory on Monday night in her first match since injuring her foot at Roland Garros.  Haddad Maia has 34 wins on the year, and won back-to-back grass court tournaments in June.  Earlier this season in the semifinals of Monterrey, Leylah prevailed over Beatriz in straight sets.

Qinwen Zheng vs. Ons Jabeur (5) – Jabeur went 1-1 last week in her first two matches since her losing effort in the Wimbledon final.  Qinwen also lost to Elena Rybakina at Wimbledon, after two tight sets in the third round of that event.

Bianca Andreescu vs. Alize Cornet – Andreescu overcame injury to defeat San Jose champion Daria Kasatkina on Tuesday evening, requiring multiple medical timeouts in the first set alone.  Earlier in the day, Cornet took out Caroline Garcia in three sets.  Alize is 2-0 against Bianca.

Yoshihito Nishioka (SE) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (6) – Nishioka was a surprise finalist last week in Washington, where he earned impressive victories over five top 40 players, including Andrey Rublev.  Auger-Aliassime has now lost four of his last six matches.  Yoshi leads their tour-level head-to-head 2-1, which includes a dramatic three-set win three years ago at Indian Wells in a third-set tiebreak.

Jack Draper (Q) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (3) – Tsitsipas has not played since his embarrassing behavior in a third-round defeat at the hands of Kyrgios at Wimbledon.  20-year-old Draper has earned 35 match wins at all levels this season. 


Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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6, 5, 4…is the rise of Carlos Alcaraz going to continue this week?

Canadian Open and Cincinnati Masters 1000 may allow the Spaniard’s ranking to reach new zeniths

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CARLOS ALCARAZ OF SPAIN - PHOTO: ANGEL MARTINEZ / MMO

By Kingsley Elliot Kaye

Numbers are fascinating, even worshipped by some, unquestionable and reassuring. We may forget the fallibility of subjective evaluation and rejoice with the sense of power that comes with belief that any reality, from outer space to the inner world, can be measured, and expressed with numbers.

 

And numbers have been fuelling tennis headlines over the last weeks as Carlos Alcaraz has been heading on, his rise in the rankings unblemished by the losses to Musetti and Sinner in the finals in Hamburg and Umag and ticking on like an ultimate countdown.  

In the next two weeks Alcaraz will have limitless opportunities to reap points in the two Masters 1000 leading up to the US Open since he will only be dropping the points he earned last year in Cincinnati where, after qualifying, he reached the round of 32 before losing to Lorenzo Sonego.

There is more at stake for those he is chasing: Medvedev, winner in Canada and semi-finalist in Cincinnati is surely capable of bettering such results, but it will not be a walkover. Zverev is fully committed to rehab and unable to defend his Cincinnati 2021 crown. Nadal, who missed all the second part of the last season and could be a serious challenger in terms of point harvesting, has just had to pull out from Montreal owing to his still-healing abdominal injury.    

Nitpickers may suggest that the most recent hurdles cleared by Alcaraz have not coincided with immaculate victories and that what had seemed for a long time to be a perfect set-up engine, meticulously fine-tuned, has been starting to misfire.

No doubt that his 2022 campaign had been a crescendo up to his triumph in the ATP Masters 1000 in Madrid, where he brushed aside Nadal, Djokovic and Zverev. The match with Djokovic was of supreme quality and will stand out as one of the gems of the year.

Till then, his loss to Korda in Monte Carlo was the only lapse and could be considered an incident, as it may occur to any guy setting foot on clay for the first time in months, adorned with a new status as a tennis prodigy after his win in Miami and awaited by a roaring buzz of expectations.

In Paris, a first yellow alert did appear when he was on the brink of defeat in round 2 with Ramos-Vinolas in a match stained by 74 unforced errors. Then followed shining performances against Korda and Khachanov before falling in the quarter-finals to Zverev who overpowered him throughout most of their match. But Zverev was formidable that day and Alcaraz strove to the very end to find an escape way and was close to coming back, missing a set point in the fourth set tiebreak that would have tugged him into a decider.

His star seemed to be shining at Wimbledon after his impressive dominance over Otte, but two days later was obscured by Sinner. On this occasion, for the first time in his newly established career, his game appeared blunted.

Was his body starting to remind him he’s a teen, capable of formidable performances, but still to develop that endurance and resilience which are needed to maintain peak cruising over longer stretches?

Then followed defeats in Hamburg and Umag finals on clay. A final itself cannot be considered a disappointing result, but his halo of invincibility was dimmed.

Particular concern was his second defeat in a month to Sinner, where he appeared at loss for solutions over the last one hour and a half, his boisterous self-confidence slowly deflating and his body language revealing frustration. In his press conference, Alcaraz admitted such a sense of helplessness and said to be determined to figure out a way to win against the Italian. 

The point is that Alcaraz made such a great impression in the first part of this season that it has become hard to believe he can lose a match.

At his best, he can deliver any shot at any moment, with a variety rarely seen before. In an inspired instant, he can switch from herculean ball-striking to caressing a dropshot, which will land, bounceless, a few inches after the net. What about his eagerness to volley, often following his wondrously effective kick serve? Not to mention his serve which alternates power and spin, his endurance in winning long rallies, scuttling far and beyond to fling in a winner from out of the blue. Opponents cannot but be befuddled. 

And then, is clay really the surface that best suits his game? In an interview with Marca, he said he’s comfortable on all surfaces but feels that his dynamic game most suits hard courts. If we couple this statement with his enthusiasm for being in Montreal and playing the Canadian Open for the first time, after throwing in some hard work for a successful transition from clay to hard, we can be positive that the fire has been kindled, and the countdown for reaching the highest ranking orbits is running once again.      

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Canada Daily Preview: Andreescu, Osaka, Raducanu Face Formidable Opposition

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Canada’s Bianca Andreescu won this title in 2019 (twitter.com/NBOtoronto)

Tuesday’s schedule in Toronto features several Major singles champions taking on recent tournament finalists.  2019 US Open champ Bianca Andreescu faces San Jose champ Daria Kasatkina.  Four-time Slam champ Naomi Osaka plays Washington runner-up Kaia Kanepi.  US Open champ Emma Raducanu faces defending champion Camila Giorgi.  And another US Open champ, Sloane Stephens, plays Indian Wells runner-up Maria Sakkari.

 

In Montreal, many matches have been carried over from Monday due to rain, including Andy Murray against Taylor Fritz, which was previewed here.  Also on Tuesday, Italy’s Matteo Berrettini takes on Pablo Carreno Busta.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Tuesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time in both cities.


Camila Giorgi vs. Emma Raducanu (9) – Second on Centre Court in Toronto

Giorgi was a surprising champion of this event a year ago, as she was ranked outside the top 70 at the time.  And she has failed to follow-up on that title run.  Camila promptly lost her next four matches, and in 2022, she’s just 13-13.  Of course Raducanu also won the biggest title of her career last summer, and has similarly struggled ever since, with a record of 11-13 on the year.  In their first career meeting, the pressure will be on Giorgi, as she’s never before defended a title of this caliber. That makes Raducanu the favorite to advance in her Canadian debut.


Daria Kasatkina (11) vs. Bianca Andreescu – Not Before 7pm on Centre Court in Toronto

What a season Kasatkina is having.  She is now 32-14, and is No.3 in the year-to-date rankings.  Last week in San Jose, she defeated two top six players en route to the title (Badosa, Sabalenka).  And at the same time, she’s influencing social change, as the Russian recently came out as gay, and spoke out against that subject remaining “taboo” in her home country.  In her own home country, Andreescu achieved great success three years ago, winning this title just weeks before becoming a US Open champion.  But the last few years have thoroughly tested Andreescu, as she’s battled injuries, COVID, and mental health issues.  Just a week ago in San Jose, she retired mid-match due to back pain.  In her first match in Toronto since her title run, it’s hard to imagine she’ll be fully healthy.  A confident, happy, and in-form Kasatkina is a strong favorite to continue her winning streak despite their history.  Bianca leads their head-to-head 2-0, which includes a three-set victory three years ago at this same event.


Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:

Pablo Carreno Busta vs. Matteo Berrettini (11) – This will be Berrettini’s debut at this event, while Carreno Busta is only 2-2 lifetime here.  Their only previous meeting occurred at this year’s Australian Open, which Matteo claimed in straight sets.

Kaia Kanepi vs. Naomi Osaka – Kanepi lost the final of Washington on Sunday to Liudmila Samsonova 6-3 in the third.  This will only be Osaka’s third match since May, and she’s coming off a straight-set loss last week in San Jose to Coco Gauff.  When they played five years ago at the US Open, Kanepi prevailed 7-5 in the third.

Maria Sakkari (3) vs. Sloane Stephens – Stephens was up a set and 5-2 over Sofia Kenin on Monday before eventually prevailing 7-5 in the third on her sixth match point in a highly-dramatic affair.  Sakkari was decisively defeated last week in San Jose by Shelby Rogers.  This is their first career encounter.


Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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