By McCarton Ackerman
Throughout the year, EmiratesUSOpenSeries.com is featuring players who could make an impact during this year's Series. Here’s a look at 25-year-old Ernests Gulbis of Latvia.
The Baseline: Known as a talented and temperamental player whose high-velocity game could be derailed by nerves in big moments, Gulbis has had a roller-coaster career. He introduced himself to the tennis world as a teenager in 2007 by cracking the Top 50 and reaching the fourth round of the US Open. He would go on to win ATP titles in 2010 and 2011 before inexplicably falling out of the Top 100 the following year.
But after deciding to fully commit to his fitness, it’s been a rapid rise back up the ranks for Gulbis in 2014. In addition to recording five wins over Top 10 players so far this year, he’s also won two ATP events, in the French cities of Nice and Marseille. Gulbis continued his love affair with France by beating Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych on the way to the semifinals of the French Open. After his performance in Paris, Gulbis cracked the Top 10 for the first time in his career.
The Breakdown: An offensive baseliner who relies most heavily on his backhand, Gulbis lives and dies by either a high winner or unforced error count. But while Gulbis is certainly capable of delivering big results on hard courts, his results at the US Open have been uneven. After his breakout run in his US Open debut, Gulbis has gone 3-6 in his appearances since and has failed to reach the third round. Last year, he lost in five sets to unheralded clay-court specialist Andreas Haider-Maurer of Austria in the first round.
Gulbis' early exits at the US Open are particularly surprising since he typically performs well at the Emirates Airline US Open Series. Last year, he defeated Andy Murray en route to reaching the quarterfinals at the ATP Masters Series event in Toronto. Gulbis also won a event in Los Angeles in 2011 and the first three ATP titles of his career came on American hard courts, in addition to both of his career doubles titles.
Now that he’s achieved a breakthrough result at a Grand Slam, it’s likely that Gulbis will be able to relax this summer – which could make him a more dangerous opponent than ever.