Gulbis in fine form to defeat Stepanek in Tokyo
Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:46
Ernests Gulbis produced a top-drawer performance to beat Radek Stepanek 6-4 6-4 in the first round of the Japan Open.
The Latvian, a qualifier in Tokyo, upset the No.6 seed with a dominant serving display, firing 13 aces and saving all five break points he faced.
Gulbis, the world No.98, has struggled with a left knee injury during the 2009 season, but believes the three-set defeat to Andy Murray at the US Open last month has helped him regain his confidence.
“Next year I’m going to come back”
“I played the way which I normally play – an aggressive game – so now I’m happy about the way the things are going,” said Gulbis. “I have a couple of more tournaments this year. But even if I lose, then I will have a good off-season practice and next year I’m going to come back.
“I’m going to play the same and I hope I can play better than I did today. I don’t see the reason why I shouldn’t play better and better. I hope to reach top 10, next two years’ time.”
In the second round, Gulbis will take on Juan Monaco, who progressed when Guillermo Garcia-Lopez retired while trailing 0-5 in the first set.
In other first-round action, Mikhail Youzhny beat Thomaz Bellucci 6-2 6-3 to set up a meeting against No.3 seed Gilles Simon, while Andreas Beck edged past compatriot and 2003 Tokyo champion Rainer Schuettler 6-3 4-6 7-6(3) for showdown against defending champion Tomas Berdych.
Richard Gasquet produced a vintage performance to beat Philipp Petzschner 6-3 6-2 and will face compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the next round as the No.2 seed beat Mischa Zverev 6-4 6-3.
It was a good day for the French all round, as Gael Monfils booked his place in the quarter-finals with a second-round win over qualifier Marco Chiudinelli 7-6(5) 6-3. Stanislas Wawrinka beat Simon Greul 6-3 6-2.