Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 2nd 2014 Contents A63
Monday, June 2, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
PARIS---So unbeatable for so long
until the closing days of Grand Slam
tournaments, Roger Federer is sud-
denly accumulating early exits.
Federer s streak of nine consecutive
quarterfinals at the French Open ended
yesterday with a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3), 6-
2, 4-6, 6-3 fourth-round loss to 18th-
seeded Ernests Gulbis of Latvia.
"A lot of regrets," Federer said. "I
just couldn t kind of figure it out."
The 17-time Grand Slam champion
had not left Roland Garros so soon
since 2004, when he was beaten in
the third round by Gustavo Kuerten.
After that decade-old setback,
though, Federer made at least the quar-
terfinals at a record 36 consecutive
major tournaments, a streak that ended
with a second-round loss at Wimble-
don last year. Federer also put together
record Slam runs of 10 finals and 23
semifinals in a row when he was at
his dominant best.
Now the 32-year-old Federer has
bowed out before the quarterfinals at
three of the last four majors.
"I think it was the biggest, probably,
win of my career," said Gulbis, who
most certainly could have dispensed
with the word "probably."
Addressing spectators who sang
Federer s first name between points,
Gulbis said: "I m sorry I had to win.
I know all of you like Roger."
The fourth-seeded Federer s resume
includes the 2009 French Open title,
and he was a four-time runner-up in
Paris to Rafael Nadal. But Federer was
hardly in top form Sunday, making 59
unforced errors and getting broken
twice while serving for a set.
That included at 5-3, 40-15 in the
second, when Federer sent an overhead
right to Gulbis, who whipped a back-
hand passing winner.
"I was lucky, I have to say," Gulbis
said about that point. "I was really
Said Federer: "Things got tough from
then on for, like, a half-hour for me."
He lost the last five points of the
second-set tiebreaker, then dropped
the third set, too.
Another key moment came when
Gulbis left the court with a trainer to
take a medical timeout while trailing
5-2 in the fourth. As he walked out,
Gulbis motioned to Federer, as if asking
for permission to go. When Gulbis
returned, some fans jeered and whis-
tled at him, and he pointed to his lower
back as if to say, "Hey, I was injured.
At his news conference, Federer
alternated between sounding a little
perturbed about the lengthy intermis-
sion --- and resigned to the idea that
what Gulbis did was within the rules.
"In the past, I guess, it s been abused
much more than today, but still, what
can you tell?" Federer said. "He didn t
look hurt in any way. But if you can
use it, you know, might as well do it."
Gulbis strokes had momentarily
gone astray before that break, but after-
ward, the 25-year-old Gulbis once
again displayed the big-hitting tennis
that had many marking him as a future
star when he was a teenager. He won
10 of the next 12 points, punctuating
shots with exhales that sounded like
The fifth set was all Gulbis, who
hadn t been to the quarterfinals at a
major tournament since the 2008
French Open. He s spoken openly
about focusing more on enjoying the
nightlife than perfecting his craft, and
drew attention last week for saying he
wouldn t encourage his younger sisters
to pursue professional tennis because
a woman "needs to think about family,
needs to think about kids."
In the concluding set, Gulbis raced
to a 3-0 lead, thanks largely to Federer
miscues. In the second game, Federer
netted backhands and forehands to
offer up break points, then pushed a
forehand wide to give Gulbis a lead he
After that miss, Federer grabbed a
ball and swatted it in anger straight
up in the air, a rare sign of exasperation
"He s Roger Federer, but he also gets
tight, you know," Gulbis said. "He s
probably going to make (that forehand)
seven out of 10 (times). Other guys
are going to make two out of 10. Mis-
The result fit with the topsy-turvy
nature of this tournament: Both reign-
ing Australian Open champions, No.
3 Stan Wawrinka and No. 2 Li Na, lost
in the first round; No. 1 Serena
Williams left in the second round.
Gulbis now plays No. 6 Tomas
Berdych, who eliminated the last
American man, No. 10 John Isner. In
another quarterfinal, No. 2 Novak
Djokovic will face No. 8 Milos Raon-
Latvia's Ernests Gulbis returns the ball to Switzerland's Roger Federer during
their fourth round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland
Garros stadium, in Paris, France, yesterday. AP PHOTO
Federer loses to Gulbis
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