Ernests Gulbis vs Novak Djokovic French Open

Underestimate Ernests at your peril. I’ve been saying that for 18 months now.

Even I have underestimated him on occasion (final vs Tsonga earlier this year in Marseille). I’m not making the same mistake twice.

He was underestimated when we got on the bandwagon vs Jarkko Nieminen in February 2013. Again when he won Delray Beach. He has crushed Nadal in a set of tennis on clay. He has pushed Nadal to the brink at Indian Wells. He is starting to feature late in tournaments consistently, and as of Monday he will be in the top 10 players in the world, with minimal points to defend in the coming months.

One more thing: besides having a double handed backhand, Ernests Gulbis is the closest thing the ATP has to Stanislas Wawrinka. Feel free to disagree, but I don’t think Novak will get this all his own way.

It is impossible to underestimate Novak Djokovic. He isn’t a freak of nature, he is what every player should strive for when it comes to putting everything you have into reaching a goal. All you need to do is take a look at his strict regimen and you can see why he is where he is today.

There is every chance that Novak comes out and absolutely wipes the floor with Gulbis, and it probably would happen about 1 time in 4. Gulbis is at big odds however, and I cannot refuse the price on a couple of markets in this match.

All previous h2h meetings are irrelevant. Gulbis is a completely different player now. It doesn’t take long viewing this match to see that the forehand and serve are completely different now, amongst other things ->

Road to the Semi Final

Novak Djokovic

Since his loss when clearly injured in Monte Carlo, Novak has certainly had a turn in form. Although he did win the Rome tournament, defeating Rafa Nadal in the final, he did find himself in 4 consecutive 3 set matches, so it didn’t all go his way.  His serve was broken 15 times across the 5 matches, which is quite uncharacteristic for Novak. That being said, it is still good form leading into a Grand Slam.

Round 1 saw Novak come up against Joao Sousa in a match marred by tricky conditions. Sousa really possesses no ruthless weapon, and it showed across the match, being broken 8 times by Novak for a 6-1 6-2 6-4 result. All that being said, Novak was broken 3 times, and conceded 10 break point opportunities to Sousa.

Round 2 was certainly an easier prospect, nullifying Jeremy Chardy in 3 lopsided sets. Chardy wrote his own ticket out of Roland Garros with 35 unforced errors to only 19 winners. Novak controlled things, breaking Chardy on 7 of 9 BP chances, and Chardy only able to break twice.

The first real test for Novak came in round 3 against Marin Cilic. Novak didn’t exactly set the world on fire, with 33 winners and 37 unforced errors. Marin ended with 64 unforced errors, and was only able to convert on 3 of 11 break point opportunities, compared to Novaks 7 of 22. Novak eased his way through in 4 sets, 6-3 6-2 6-7 6-4.

Round 4 saw an unforced error frenzy from Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, wiped off the court by Novak 6-1 6-4 6-1. Novak only had 18 winners and 18 unforced errors, clearly aware that Jo was going to defeat himself. The pressure of playing Novak at home on Court Philippe-Chatrier, and Djokovic made sure he was on and off court in under 90 minutes.

Milos was semi competitive in the quarter final, lasting just under 2.5 hours, although struggled to make inroads on Novak’s first and second serves, winning only 26% on each. When Milos landed his first serve he was in the match, winning 63 of 80 points on his first serve. It was the key moments in the 1st set (Milos losing serve to 30 serving at 5-6) and the 2nd set tiebreak that separated both players, with Novak coming out on top 7-5 7-6 6-4, giving up a late break of serve after leading the 3rd set 4-0.

Great form, but not spectacular, and not the invincible Novak we have come to know at times.

Ernests Gulbis

Since the start of the Madrid tournament, Ernie has only lost to David Ferrer. Wins Janowicz, Dolgopolov, Cilic, Klizan, Tursunov and Delbonis, plus raising the title in Nice in the lead up to Roland Garros.

Round 1 saw Ernie 2 points away from a first set bagel against Kubot, before recovering to get the job done in 4 sets, 4-6 6-4 7-5 6-1. Gulbis was all over the 2nd serve of Kubot in sets 2 to 4, winning 20 of 35 on the Kubot 2nd serve.

It has all been onwards and upwards from there for Gulbis. He dismantled Facundo Bagnis 6-2 7-5 6-0, winning 30 of 39 points on the 2nd serve, and only allowing 1 break point opportunity, which he saved.

He then only had to save 1 break point all match vs Radek Stepanek, hitting 45 winners and only 30 unforced errors in a 6-3 6-2 7-5 performance.

Then he took it to the next level.

Since the start of 2002, Roger Federer is a phenomenal 221-10 in Grand Slam matches when winning the 1st set. An 11th defeat was added to that list this week when Gulbis got the better of Federer in  5 gripping sets, Gulbis getting it 6-7 7-6 6-2 4-6 6-3 in 3hrs 42mins.

Then he took it to another level…again!

Coming off a 5 set thriller with Roger Federer, Gulbis then absolutely annihilated the 6th seed Tomas Berdych, 6-3 6-2 6-4. Berdych had put together a brilliant fortnight to that point, but had absolutely no answers to Gulbis’ 31 winners to 17 unforced errors, with Berdych’s forehand particularly wayward all afternoon. To get through a best of 5 set match with Tomas Berdych, and only allowing 3 break point opportunities (1 of which was converted), all of which were in the first set. In sets 2 and 3, Berdych only reached Deuce once on Gulbis’ serve.

Gulbis has all the skills, it just depends how it all comes together on the day. I am willing to chance it on this day. You need to know when you get involved in an Ernests Gulbis match, you are hopping onto a rollercoaster. You will get your fair share of cracking winners, as well as well as horrid drop shots and racquet smashes. You may also get the occasional game like this ->

Ernie owes me nothing. For those who have been followers for the last 18 months will know all about Ernie and my thoughts on him (as well as the boss @TheProfitsComAu), so we will be cheering hard here. When I write about him however, I remove as much bias as humanly possible. I feel like I know his game well, and I know that at his best, he will absolutely trouble Novak Djokovic.

Here are the plays I am taking for the match:

4 units Novak Djokovic over 19.5 total player games at $1.76 at Sportsbet

1.5 units Ernests Gulbis h2h at $8.20 at Betfair with SAVER 0.75 units Novak Djokovic 3-2 set betting at $8.50 at Sportsbet

1.5 units Ernests Gulbis To Win a Set ‘Yes” at $2 at Betfair

1 unit Ernests Gulbis 1st set winner at $4.41 at Sportingbet

Please Note:
All of the above are the opinions of the author and are not recommendations or advice. The author may not be taking every bet listed above. Bet at your own risk.
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I've had a passion for Tennis since I was young and haven't missed a Grand Slam ever since I can remember. I'm always happy to talk Tennis on twitter and respond to any queries so feel free to tweet me your questions.

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