Gulbis going for gold

Photo courtesy of Ernests Gulbis looked outstanding in his first round match at the US Open. Could this be his breakthrough tournament?

By Josh Kramer

I know we are only just starting Day 3 at the US Open and some players have still yet to play their first round matches yet.  But one major storyline of Day Two was Ernests Gulbis.  The 23-year-old wild man from Latvia straight cruised on his birthday.

Could Gulbis’ Michael Jordan year be his breakout year?

Most people who follow the ATP are well aware of Gulbis.  And most people who know who Gulbis is are more than aware of the kid’s transgressions.  Lets put it this way, Gulbis does not have the greatest of reputations.  Currently, Gulbis is ranked just 53rd in the world and is in the midst of yet another very disappointing year (16 and 16 overall record).

Today though, the Latvian star was clicking on all cylinders.  He looked like the same guy who shocked Roger Federer at the 2010 Italian Open.  The guy who was ranked number 21 in the world at the beginning of 2011. A man on a mission who was capable of cruising into Week 2 of a major tournament.

Ernests Gulbis, more than any player on the tour, embodies what it means to have the “Marat Safin Syndrome.”  For those of you who are unaware of what this means, or who Marat Safin is, let me tell you.  Marat Safin was a great player out of Russia, who had all the talent in the world.  During the course of his very “up and down” 13 year career, Safin won two Grand Slam titles, became the top ranked player in the world in November of 2000, and broke more rackets than any other player quite possibly in the history of the tour.

Safin could have been one of the all-time greats. Instead, he will forever be known as one of the biggest “Could have,” or “Should have,” players of all time.  Will Gulbis suffer the same fate?

On days like today, where he made world number 15 Mikhail Youzhny look like a mere amateur, we certainly hope not.  Gulbis is by all means a very aggressive power baseliner.  He typically utilizes a very intimidating forehand to put himself on the offensive during rallies.

A round of 16 matchup with world number two Rafael Nadal appears to be looming if Gulbis can keep his mental game straight.  Could the 23rd birthday have finally awoken a sleeping giant in Ernests Gulbis?

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

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