Match report

Ryan Sweeting ©
1st round
7/18/11 1 2 3 Tot
us  Ryan Sweeting 4 6 4 1
in  Somdev Dev Varman 6 3 6 2
Somdev Dev Varman ©
James Blake ©
1st round
7/19/11 1 2 3 Tot
us  James Blake 5 7 6 2
lv  Ernests Gulbis 7 6 2 1
Ernests Gulbis ©
  • Blake back from the brink in Atlanta win over Gulbis

    7/19/11 7:01 AM | Ricky Dimon
    James Blake storms from behind to oust Ernests Gulbis during first-round action in Atlanta on Monday. Somdev Devvarman also advances in three tough sets as he gets past Ryan Sweeting.

    James Blake d. Ernests Gulbis 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-2

    Blake admirably fought off early elimination and battled past Gulbis in the first round of the Atlanta Tennis Championships on Monday night. While Blake played well and raised his level as the proceedings progressed, this was yet another match in which Gulbis snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. The 22-year-old Latvian fell behind by a break at 3-1 in the opening set, but he broke back immediately and soon took complete control. Gulbis' second break of the day came at 5-5 and he followed it up by serving out the set with ease.

    With momentum in hand, Gulbis held en route to 4-4 in the second then broke for a 5-4 advantage. Serving for victory, the world No. 81 found himself ahead 30-0--two points from advancing--and suddenly tightened up. Blake won four consecutive points to stay alive and two holds later a tiebreaker had to decide the second. Gulbis again reached the precipice of winning as he stormed ahead 4-0, but a mental meltdown led to six straight points for Blake. The veteran American eventually converted his second set point at 6-5 to extend the match in improbable fashion.

    The scoreline suggests Blake rolled through the third, but it was not without drama. The world No. 91 saved four break points at 0-1 to stay on serve before Gulbis double-faulted on break point at 2-2 for the final momentum swing. After a one-hour rain delay, Blake returned a man on a mission and maintained his edge. The former world No. 4 fought off five more break points--which featured a rally from 0-40 down at 5-2--and sealed the deal just before another downpour would have halted play. Next up for Blake is doubles partner and No. 3 seed John Isner.

    (8) Somdev Devvarman d. Ryan Sweeting 6-4, 3-6, 6-4

    Another entertaining clash was going on simultaneously, and Devvarman got the job done against Sweeting after two hours and 23 minutes of play--16 fewer minutes than Blake required. Unlike Gulbis, Devvarman was able to shake of the disappointment of squandering multiple leads. India's top player gave back one break in the first set after leading 4-0 but a clutch hold at 5-4 ended the opening frame of play. Devvarman went ahead by an early break in the second, but his game collapsed with victory in sight and Sweeting rolled to force a third.

    The 66th-ranked American again played from behind in the final frame of play, but he twice battled back from breaks down. Sweeting even survived three match points on his opponent's own serve at 5-3 and broke to keep his hopes afloat. A match that featured 11 service breaks, however, ended in appropriate fashion--with Devvarman earning another scalp of the Sweeting serve at 5-4 to advance. Atlanta's No. 8 seed moves on to a meeting with Japan's Tatsuma Ito, a straight-set winner over Michael Berrer.

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"...... this was yet another match in which Gulbis snatched defeat from the jaws of victory"
:) Brilliant!

Shireling , 7/19/11 2:54 PM

LOL. Gulbis seems to invent new ways of losing at every turn.

cherylmurray , 7/19/11 10:52 PM

This seriously isn't funny. He has 20 break chances against an aging Blake- no disrespect, I really like him as a person- and converts nearly nil. How long can you be thought of as the next big thing, if it like...keeps not happening?

Ricky, if Gulbis spoke about anything of note in the presser, please write it here or email me when you get a sec. Thx.

Kelli , 7/19/11 11:43 PM

The thing, Kelli, is that at some point one has to expect that however close to victory young Ernie might seem, he can always find a way to lose the match. And like it or not, there is some entertainment value in that. Because at this point, it's either laugh or cry...and you know I'm not a crier. :D

cherylmurray , 7/20/11 12:17 AM

give him golubev! who would be the favourite to lose? a real duel to see who is the slumpiest slump on the atp tour...

croc , 7/20/11 3:00 PM

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