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Goffin denies Gulbis to reach last eight for first time

David Goffin, once described as the 'Harry Potter of tennis' on account of his youthful demeanour and magical shot-making, did not have to produce his most spellbinding tennis to defeat Ernest Gulbis 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 and earn his first ever appearance in a Grand Slam quarter final.

The scoreline - and the loss of the opening set - flattered the No.12 seed's opponent, who led 3-0 at the resumption of play today on No.1 Court but went on to make 68 unforced errors.

Gulbis found himself in the last 16 courtesy of a walkover when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga retired with injury. But in the rainy conditions that prevented further play yesterday, he relished the slow ball and the luxury of time it gave him to wield his ground strokes. With that crucial break to his name, he managed initially today to dictate play and seal a one-set advantage with a lovely drop shot.

It was a reminder of the skills that took the erratic right-hander from Latvia to a career-best ranking of No.10 in the world in 2014 - a status he is now 70 ranking places south of. But his best performances have come at Roland-Garros. He was a shock semi-finalist here in 2014 and the sort of 'dark horse' that has the game, if not always the attitude, to pull off a result. Prior to this game, he had won six of his last seven meetings with top-20 players at the Grand Slams, and that one loss was to Djokovic.

So, a lot of tennis on the cards? Not if Goffin had his say. Intriguingly, the pair were 1-1 in head-to-head encounters - Acapulco 2014 and Madrid 2015 - with both previous meetings going the distance.

The 25-year-old Belgian who had been so keen to get off court yesterday settled into his quest with composure and consistency. His smooth, fluid style is a joy to watch and he quickly achieved a 3-0 lead in the second set, hitting just one unforced error as he established his intent to reverse momentum with a double break.

Gulbis, on the other hand, started totting up his unfortunate number of unforced errors. For someone who cites "reading lectures from philosophers on the internet" as one of interests, he seemed awfully short of answers to counter Goffin's charge to a 2-1 lead.

In the fourth set, the No.12 seed had few problems breaking Gulbis in the fifth and seventh games, the latter with a glorious passing shot on the run. The Latvian, forced to serve to stay in the match, could do nothing to initiate a fight-back. Already languishing at 0-40, he surrendered the match on a double fault.

rolandgarros.com
01-06-2016
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