The 2009 ATP Tour season has just started and Latvian Ernests Gulbis (pictured) has already pulled off an upset for the ages, defeating Serbian Novak Djokovic, 6-4, 6-4, in the opening round at the Brisbane International on Tuesday. The 20-year-old earned his biggest career victory by ousting the defending Australian Open champion, in a 90-minute thriller in front of a jam-packed crowd at the Patrick Rafter Arena at the Queensland Tennis Center in Australia.
“I was trying to keep my focus to the next point,” said Gulbis. “Not (thinking) about winning or losing because last season I lost a lot of matches because I was up, maybe a break up in the third set and I had match points and I started thinking about winning the matches. This time I was really focused till the last game on my serve.”
After getting ahead 4-2 and 0-40 on Djokovic’s serve in the opening set, Gulbis froze and was unable to break the Serbian’s serve despite four break point opportunities. However, the Latvian, who is said to be a possible Top 20 player someday, remained focused to eventually hold serve and take the opening set, 6-4. After four service breaks in the early stages of the second set, Gulbis ultimately broke Djokovic’s serve at 4-4, followed by a service hold to win the match in straight sets.
“We all study each other’s games and he took the best out of the two losses against me last year,” said Djokovic. “It’s not a good to start the year with a loss, nobody likes to lose. But on bright side it's only start of year and there are more tournaments to come.”
Gulbis, who reached a career-best No. 38 in last year’s rankings, defeated Djokovic for the first time after losing both previous meetings last season all in straight sets. The Latvian won 74 percent of first serve points, while managing to break serve on four different occasions. Gulbis will next do battle against Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu, for a place in the quarterfinals.
Other First Round Results from Tuesday in Brisbane
No. 2 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga def. Agustin Calleri, 6-2, 7-5
No. 5 Tomas Berdych def. Brydan Klein, 6-0, 6-4
Michael Llodra def. Joseph Sirianni, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-2
Mario Ancic def. Amer Delic, 7-6(2), 6-7(4), 7-6(6)
Kei Nishikori def. Bobby Reynolds, 6-3, 6-2
Florent Serra def. Juan Carlos Ferrero, 6-3, 7-6(3)
Paul-Henri Mathieu def. Teimuraz Gabashvili, 6-3, 6-3
Second Round Results from Tuesday in Brisbane
No. 4 Robin Soderling def. Julien Benneteau, 6-3, 6-3
No. 7 Richard Gasquet def. Taylor Dent, 7-5, 6-4