• Isner, Gulbis collide in Monte-Carlo first round

    4/15/13 6:30 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Isner, Gulbis collide in Monte-Carlo first round A blockbuster first-rounder in Monte-Carlo pits John Isner against Ernests Gulbis on Tuesday. Isner is fresh off a much-needed title on the clay courts of Houston.

    John Isner and Ernests Gulbis will be facing each other for the second time in their careers when they meet in round one of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters on Tuesday afternoon. Their only previous encounter came at Wimbledon in 2008, when Gulbis prevailed 7-5, 7-5, 6-7(3), 7-6(6).

    The two competitors have been up and down since then, with Isner mostly up and Gulbis mostly down. Slumping simultaneously dating back to last summer, both Isner and Gulbis have suddenly rounded into form.

    Isner had been a dismal 7-8 for his 2013 campaign prior to last week in Houston. The 6’9” American missed the Australian Open due to a knee injury and he lost early in both Indian Wells–where he had reached the final in 2012–and Miami. Isner, however, powered his way to the Houston title by ousting Juan Monaco in the semis and beating Nicolas Almagro’s in Sunday’s championship.

    "I've always known I could play well on clay," said the world No. 23. "This week is a little surprising, as Monday was the first day I hit a ball on clay since September. I knew it was going to be a tough adjustment and that I had to find a way to get through my first match. I felt I played better each and every round."

    Gulbis played better than he has since 2010 and 2011 during a hot streak out of nowhere in late February and early March. The 56th-ranked Latvian won the Delray Beach title as a qualifier then qualified for Indian Wells and reached the fourth round before losing to eventual champion Rafael Nadal in a three-set thriller. Gulbis, who dominated two Davis Cup rubbers against Monaco earlier this month, is 13-3 at the ATP level this season.

    Both players have a decent history of success on clay and they are showcasing some of their best tennis at the moment. This one could come down to gas in the tank. Isner is making a super-quick turnaround after Houston while Gulbis has been in Monte-Carlo for more than a week thanks to his convenient Davis Cup tie.

    Gulbis is two competitive sets is the pick.

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Hey look at that. 2 of my favorite players against eachother in the first round. Awesome. I hope whoever wins this takes out Djokovic.

ts38 , 4/16/13 4:49 PM

Isner just won 1st set!!

Monalysa , 4/16/13 6:06 PM

Enrst looks like he is in control of the 2nd set!!!!

Monalysa , 4/16/13 6:35 PM

It's not looking good for Issy. He's had treatment on his back and looks as if he is in pain.

ed251137 , 4/16/13 6:42 PM

Gulbis beat Isner in 3.

nadline , 4/16/13 7:23 PM

you know, I kind of thought the same - look, those two of my favorite guys playin'! :) However, Nole is #1 for me, so, I'll second only your first sentence :).

It was unlikely John would be able to compete at such a competitive level after just arriving from the States.

danica , 4/16/13 8:09 PM

I didn't think there was anyway Jayzer could win this...with the fatigue and turnaround and all. Oh well, I hope Gulbis does well. If he does meet Nole it could be a helluva match. Cheers!

ts38 , 4/17/13 12:18 PM

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