Ernests Gulbis came back from 0-4 down in the final set to beat Sam Querrey 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (4) in the second round of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships on Thursday.
Gulbis scored his first victory over a top-25 player since last year’s U.S. Open, where he beat Tommy Haas in the first round, and advanced to his first ATP quarterfinal of the year. A Delray Beach champion in 2010, Gulbis had to win three qualifying matches to even earn his place in the main draw.
As most of his matches tend to be, Gulbis was on an emotional roller coaster throughout the three-set comeback. He busted a racket (“The racket and strings were perfect. It was issues with me and my head,” he said after the match), received a point penalty for screaming an f-bomb after a miss and benefited from some ugly tennis from Querrey, who double-faulted on break point when he served for the match at 5-4 and then threw in back-to-back double faults to end the match in the tiebreaker. Ouch.
Asked how he was able to turn the match around after being down a double break in the third, Gulbis kept it simple. “With some French words and English. It helped me,” he said, laughing.
“I was really pissed off, you know. I feel like I’m in really good shape. I was really pissed off I couldn’t close the second set. I lost my concentration and I was just mad at myself.”
Commentating for Tennis Channel, Leif Shiras called Gulbis’ behavior “childish,” but in the end it worked. Gulbis’ play improved after he was given the point penalty, and Querrey wilted under the pressure.
Next up for Gulbis is Daniel Munoz-De La Nava, a Spanish qualifier who beat Ryan Harrison in the first round.