Following an impressive debut at the US Open, Dominic Thiem will be faced with the hard task of dispatching Latvian No. 1 Ernests Gulbis in the second round. While they have only had one previous encounter on the professional tour, they are familiar with each other’s game and regularly practice together, which should make for an interesting contest.
Eleventh seed Ernests Gulbis made a successful start to his 2014 campaign in Flushing Meadows, taking out Kenny De Schepper in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 to secure his spot in the second round of the tournament. The Latvian hit 10 aces, won 87% of his first service points as well as a total of 35 winners to close out the win in 1 hour and 34 minutes.
“I played with him in Queen’s. He served much, much better. But it helped me that we played in evening. Especially in the end of the second set, when it just became dark, when the light started to be a little bit stronger, when you toss the ball you lose it a little bit for a while. I think that’s his biggest problem, so that’s why he serves a lot of double-faults. Also I felt if I change a little bit the position of my return, I completely swap his rhythm and his vision of the court, so…”
Regarding his practice time with Thiem, Gulbis is not worried and consider it a match like any other.
“Never want to play somebody who you practice with. But, honestly, I have no emotions because of that. I think it’s a little bit tougher on Dominic, though. He really doesn’t want to play with me, because we played one match I think two years ago in New Haven in qualifying. I played a terrible match, but he couldn’t win me just because it was against me, you know. It was a really bad quality match, so hopefully it’s going to be better quality. But for me it doesn’t really bother me.”
His 20-year-old opponent made his tournament debut on Wednesday afternoon, where he defeated Lukas Lacko 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 to secure his spot in the second round of the tournament.
The dynamic between the two players should make for some interesting television viewing, but the odds should rightfully favour Gulbis, who holds the head-to-head advantage as well as the experience at this stage of a Grand Slam.
Prediction: Ernests Gulbis in Four Sets