All good things must come to an end, and that includes the dream run of Ernests Gulbis at Wimbledon. The former World No. 10 picked up his first tour-level match wins since last year at Roland Garros, including a second-round win over Juan Martin del Potro in which he hammered 60 winners, to set up a Centre Court clash on Saturday against second seed Novak Djokovic.
It appeared that Gulbis might have more magic in store after racing to a 4-2 lead in the opening set, but the Serbian buckled down and showed why he’s a three-time Wimbledon champion. Djokovic went on a nine-game tear en route to a comfortable 6-4, 6-1, 7-6(2) victory over the Latvian to reach the second week.
“Gulbis is someone that is very unpredictable and has a huge serve, a very powerful and fast game from back of the court. It’s not easy to play against him on this surface,” said Djokovic. “I’m really pleased that I managed to win in straight sets, especially since he started serving better in the third set. He kind of gave it a last shot. I thought he played a good level of tennis, but I managed to hang on and play a very good tie-break. That can only can boost my confidence level for whatever is coming up next.”
Djokovic extends his FedEx ATP Head2Head against Gulbis to 7-1 and has won their past five matches. He is through to the fourth round at Wimbledon for the 10th time and picks up his 236th win at a major.
It appears that the Serbian’s decision to play last week at the Aegon International has paid off. He took that title over Gael Monfils and dropped just eight games in his first two matches at the All England Club.
Awaiting Djokovic in the next round is Adrian Mannarino, who continued his inspired grass-court play by taking out fellow Frenchman and 15th seed Monfils 7-6(3), 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 in three hours and 30 minutes. The No. 51 in the Emirates ATP Rankings matches his best Grand Slam result, a fourth-round Wimbledon appearance in 2013. Mannarino was a finalist last week at the Antalya Open (l. Sugita).
Djokovic’s lone FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting with Mannarino came at this very event last year, with the Serbian scoring a straight-sets win in the second round.
“He’s lefty, has a good slice serve and a very tricky game. He plays very flat and very low, moves well around the court and anticipates well. I think his game is very suitable for this kind of surface,” said Djokovic of Mannarino. “You have to give him credit. He beat Monfils and a couple good players to reach the fourth round. The matches are only going to get tougher as the tournament progresses.”