After compiling an atrocious record by any standard in 2015, Ernests Gulbis found himself in the second round of the French Open. There, he will contest a match-up against local favourite Nicolas Mahut, whom he has faced once previously on the ATP World Tour. Gulbis leads the head-to-head series 1-0, with a recent win last season in Marseille.
A semi-finalist at last year’s French Open, Gubis needed to find his form quickly if he was to have any hope of salvaging some of those ranking points during the coming fortnight in Paris. In his opening round match, he was able to regain some of that lost form to secure a straight sets win against Igor Sijsling. He closed out the match 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(3) to earn just his third tour victory of the season.
“The last couple of matches on clay, it has been getting better and better,” Gulbis said about his current form. “I had some close losses against Goffin and Vesely in Rome and Madrid. As well as against Paire in Barcelona. But in Barcelona I didn’t play well yet. In Rome and Madrid I played decent and these are guys ranked in the Top 30 in the world. I lost to Goffin 7-5 in the third, and next week he played the quarter-finals. So it seems like I’ve been losing a lot of matches, but I lost to decent people… It’s now or never for the clay season.”
Awaiting the Latvian in the second round is French wildcard Nicolas Mahut, who defeated qualifier Kimmer Coppejans 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4) to earn his spot.
While Gulbis and Mahut have only met once previously on the professional tour, Gulbis actually holds two wins against Mahut on French soil, as he also beat him at the 2012 Orleans Challenger tournament. Unless he starts showing shades of his earlier inconsistency, Gulbis should find his way into the third round in Paris.
Prediction: Ernests Gulbis in Four Sets