INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Ernests Gulbis squandered a lead and smashed another racket, but he still managed to extend his winning streak.
Gulbis rallied past Andreas Seppi 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 on Monday in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open. With his 13th consecutive victory, the qualifier set up a fourth-round clash with Rafael Nadal, who advanced after Leonardo Mayer withdrew with a back injury.
Gulbis lost the final four games of the first set, including a service game at 5-3 when he double-faulted on break point, leading to his latest racket smash.
Despite his outburst, not a whole lot is bothering Gulbis these days. Just as he shrugged off the earthquake that hit the Coachella Valley on Monday morning — “It was nothing,” he said — so did he shrug off the first-set blip in his match. He advanced to the fourth round of an ATP Masters 1000 for the first time since 2010.
The 24-year-old Latvian is 0-4 against Nadal, but he’s never come into a match as confident as he is right now. Gulbis began the year ranked No. 136, but with his incredible run lately, he should be right around the top 50 after the tournament. He entered Indian Wells at No. 67.
“I think the way I play right now, that should make a difference,” Gulbis said. “I believe that I can win.”
Gulbis added: “I like to play against him because his ball and his heavy spin, it’s good for my timing. I don’t like when the opponents hit flat, deep balls. I like the opponents hit spin, high balls. It’s easier for me to control them.
“Of course he’s a great player, but I believe that if I play my best game, I can beat him.”