ROME — Ernests Gulbis had a simple approach to his third-round match against Rafael Nadal at the Italian Open on Thursday.
“I have to bring my A-game or I’m going to get three games,” Gulbis said a day earlier. “So I’m going to bring my A-game.”
Gulbis delivered on that promise during the type of early onslaught that Nadal seldom faces on clay. But Gulbis, despite believing that he was the superior player Thursday, wasn’t able to finish off his first victory over Nadal in six attempts. Nadal overcame the big-hitting Gulbis 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 to advance to the quarterfinals, where the six-time champion will meet David Ferrer on Friday.