Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - The Ernests Truth
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The Ernests Truth 03/01/2010 - 1:07 PM

Eg More than with most sports, to watch a tennis match is to concentrate and meditate on every miniscule aspect, every tic, of the two people on court. You can know a player by his forehand and his kick serve, but you can also know him by his grunt, his headband, the way he walks to the sideline, his reaction to a big win, the ritual he performs before serving. Bjorn Borg, cool assassin, blew on his fingers as he was setting up to serve. Roger Federer, nonchalant athlete, dribbled the ball between his legs as he walked back from the net, in the days when he used to serve and volley. Andy Roddick, power pitcher, drums the ball into the court. Nikolay Davydenko, reluctant champion, taps it downward as gingerly as possible. Everyone does it his or her own way, but I’ve never seen a pre-serve ritual quite like the one that Ernests Gulbis was showing off in Delray Beach last week. When he got to the baseline, he bounced the ball up to eye level, then tipped it farther upward with the back of his hand, before letting it settle into his tossing hand. What does this little juggling move say about the young Latvian’s personality? He’s pretty superstitious, and he’s got talent to waste. 

In the past, the 21-year-old Gulbis has had no trouble wasting it. But that appears to be changing in 2010. After failing to win two straight matches for much of last season, and being embarrassed by Andy Murray at Wimbledon along the way, Gulbis is facing the new year with his head on straight. He’s 10-4 so far, he won his first career title in Delray, and he pushed Federer deep into a third set in Doha. Gulbis has regained the glow of the sure-shot prospect that he had back when he came out firing his cannon forehand in 2008. That glow had faded in ’09, when his questionable work ethic—as well as his rumored extracurricular activities—nearly made this wealthy man's son into a walking punch line about spoiled youth and squandered potential. Credit for the mini-turnaround must go to his new coach, Hernan Gumy, whom Gulbis teamed up with at the end of last season. “He made some big improvements in every aspect of my game,” Gulbis said in Delray. Still, it’s not like the kid has grown up all in one day. His preparation for the final included a Playstation session that lasted until 2:30 in the morning. 

The question is, how much talent does he have to waste? Gulbis is now ranked No. 45, with a proverbial bullet next to his name. Is he, as everyone asks when a young player surges, Top 10 material? Let’s start by saying that reaching that exalted position is not as easy as it sounds. Or, rather, it’s exactly as hard as it sounds. There are at least a thousand guys with ATP rankings, and just 1 percent of them can be in the Top 10 on any given week. For Gulbis to enter that elite percentile, someone must exit it. Is he ready to be as consistent as, say, current No. 10 Fernando Gonzalez, or No. 9 Marin Cilic, a 20-year-old who also has a bullet next to his name?

Gulbis isn’t there yet, and he likely won’t be there this season. But the raw skills, the things you can’t teach, are in place. He didn’t drop a set in Delray. Even more impressive, he broke Ivo Karlovic three times in the final. He did it by showing an uncanny ability to read the direction of the big man’s first serve and get there in time to meet it out in front. If the skills necessary to do that—the reaction time, the hand-eye coordination, the racquet-head speed, the clean ball-striking—don’t make you believe in his potential, nothing will.

What Gulbis’ game has lacked is texture. He has variety, in the form of a superb drop shot, and explosiveness to burn. Give him an extra millisecond to hit his forehand and you can consider the point over; move up to challenge his second serve and you might find it kicking up into your face. But he never had the flexibility to gauge the moment and adapt his strokes to it. Like a human ball machine, every forehand was drilled full blast. He didn’t change the tempo of the match if wasn't going well, didn’t seem to think much before he served, didn’t dig in and adjust to his opponent. It appeared that a rally couldn’t be over fast enough to suit him. Even against Karlovic, there was still some evidence of his impatience. As Jimmy Arias of the Tennis Channel noted, after Gulbis belted a screaming roundhouse backhand into the net in the second set, there was no reason for him to go for immediate winners against Karlovic. Gulbis had the natural advantage from the ground, and he could afford to spend a little time constructing the point, moving the big guy into his backhand corner and waiting for a shorter slice to float back. It’s as if Gulbis’ ability to end a point from anywhere means that he’s never had to develop nuances to his game.

The brain cramp on that backhand aside, Gulbis played a savvy match against one of the tour's trickiest opponents. It used to be, when you played Karlovic, that keeping the ball in play was enough to earn you a service hold. Not so anymore. As Gulbis recognized, Karlovic is consistent enough now that opponents have to hit the ball hard and go for more—not that Gulbis has any trouble doing that. But his tactics were impressive in two other ways. It was a windy day, so he kept the ball far from the sidelines; that may be Tennis 101, but at least Gulbis has opened the textbook. More surprising, he began the match by going after Karlovic’s better shot, his forehand. Arias questioned this tactic, but by the end of the first set, the pace of Gulbis’s serves and ground strokes had completely broken Dr. Ivo's forehand down. It left Karlovic, who also couldn’t win points with his serve, with nowhere to turn.

All he could do was wait and hope that Gulbis would get nervous and blow up on his own. This wasn’t a forlorn hope, as the kid has had a history of winning first sets and going straight downhill from there. It appeared that it might happen again when Gulbis served, up a break, at 3-2 in the second. At 30-15, he double-faulted in a fit of pique after getting what he thought was a bad call. Here was the moment when the new Gulbis would be tested. On the next two points, instead of going for broke, he worked his way to the net for the first time in the match. At 30-30, he negotiated a thorny backhand volley in the wind by carving it crosscourt, where it blew away from Karlovic. At 40-30, Gulbis showed off his forehand volley, angling a solid passing shot crosscourt and onto the sideline for another winner. It was 4-2; Karlovic never challenged again.

If this was the moment of truth for Gulbis, what does it tell us about the truth of his game and his future? It appears that he can be patient and resourceful, that he can improvise, that he can win ugly—that, after all, there may be texture and nuance underneath the cannon-fire. It should be there. Off-court, Gulbis, whio was named after Ernest Hemingway, has a more nuanced personality than many of his peers. He speaks in an intelligent semi-whisper and mostly avoids clichés, and he has interests that range a little wider than the latest Will Ferrell movie. Gulbis prefers David Lynch; that may or may not require depth, but it definitely requires patience. Maybe Gulbis, a child of privilege who is also a lonely pioneer in his country—as he says, everything he does is a first for Latvian tennis—was ambivalent about the lonely grunt work he needed to do to succeed as a pro. Maybe, like Andre Agassi, he was a factory-made prodigy with a streak of self-doubt that led to an early case of burnout.

Like I said, there are many ways to know a tennis player, one of which is to hear what he says after a match. Gulbis’ pet word during his first couple of years on tour was “loser.” He didn’t want to be a “big loser” against Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2008. Later that season at the U.S. Open, he predicted that no one would come to his press conference after his loss to Andy Roddick, because, “Nobody is interested in losers.” This was the voice of the ironical post-adolescent, the overgrown child. 

In Delray, Gulbis had a new pet word, courtesy of his coach: "enjoy." “My coach told me before the match, ‘Just go on court. Enjoy your first final. You’re a young guy, enjoy it.’” You can read a lot into body language, but you can read even more into real language. This was the voice of a young man enjoying something for the first time: feeling like a winner.


Posted by crazyone 03/01/2010 at 01:29 PM

Great piece, Steve.

I've been an Ernests Gulbis fan for a long time, you don't know how much of a relief it is to finally see him string some decent results together.

I really like the way you singled out his problem: the lack of "texture", rather than the "lack of variety", which is what most commentators said he has. But Ernests has always had plenty of variety--drop shots, volleys, etc. (and if that's still not "plenty", it's just as much if not more than many of the others in the top 20), what he's lacked is patience from the ground, and texture, as you said.

His return of serve was just AMAZING. I don't know how you can return Karlovic's first serves as if they were Dementieva second serves, but at times, he did it.

Posted by Sunny 03/01/2010 at 01:38 PM


Posted by Beckham (Gulbis, 2010 USO Champ!!!) 03/01/2010 at 01:43 PM

FLOVES this Steve, as a long time Ernie supporter and suffering fan, I am just excited to see that Ernie is actually doing something with all the potential he has...I second C1's comment, contrary to popular opinion, Ernie is not a ball basher, he just doesn't have patience and just goes for broke all the time, which is really unnecessary since he can hang on the baseline with the top guys. I really hope he makes it this season and not next season, I don't know if Ernie has the patience to wait till next season...;)

I can't wait for Ernie to become a nightmare draw for all the top guys including Federer, I have supreme confidence and belief that he's going to win a GS, all that talent can't go to waste, he has to, he has no choice in the matter, he has too...

Posted by CaliforniaAce 03/01/2010 at 01:55 PM

This is my first ever comment! Great article, Steve. I look forward to your articles more than anything else on the site.

I think you've captured Gulbis very well here. Over the past year he's demonstrated what everyone has always known to be true but that we sometimes forget: being able to win a tennis match is about so much more than hitting big shots (which Gulbis obviously is able to do).

Gulbis is still young enough to turn it around, though. I think the comparison to a young Agassi is interesting, and perhaps very relevant. And perhaps it's those early trials that end up being beneficial to long-term development. In addition to the Agassi example, the past few years of pro tennis have shown that players can take their games to new levels even after they've reached the age when all the experts say they should've peaked (Verdasco, Davydenko, Isner, even Haas). I think the same thought can be applied to those who've concluded Murray can't win a slam (remember Lendl's age at his first slam win?).

Posted by Master Ace 03/01/2010 at 02:02 PM

"I have supreme confidence and belief that he's going to win a GS"

Congratulations to Ernests for winning Delray Beach but as I said earlier and will continue to say that him winning the 2010 USO is slim and none with 99.99% leaning to none. Also, I want to see how he will perform at Indian Wells and Miami later this month.

Posted by Master Ace 03/01/2010 at 02:02 PM

Welcome to TW, California Ace

Posted by VC 03/01/2010 at 02:08 PM

Gulbis has a career-best Slam result of QF at RG '08 which is surprising. I'd have thought his impatience would make it hard for him to get results on clay. It will be interesting to see how he does on clay this year.

Posted by Julian 03/01/2010 at 02:25 PM

I had been following Gulbis in 2008 before he seemed just to vanish from prominence after people were touting him as the enxt big thing. I'm glad he's tapping into the quite palpable potential he has; his game is too big for him not to be challenging for a top 20 position. He played an excellent and brave match against Federer in Doha where most others his age become overawed.

His preparation on serve is very cool indeed.

Posted by noleisthebest 03/01/2010 at 02:30 PM

Gulbis is a rich daddy's boy who will never be able to compete continuously at the very top.

If he had Nadal's spirit, it'd be a different story.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 03/01/2010 at 02:32 PM

Loved this line, Steve:

"It was a windy day, so he kept the ball far from the sidelines; that may be Tennis 101, but at least Gulbis has opened the textbook."

Could any sports writer clicking away on a keyboard today make the point more emphatically without hyperbole? I doubt it.

Posted by Jay 03/01/2010 at 02:32 PM

I enjoyed the article, and I enjoyed watching the match, as well. Looking forward to seeing more of this emerging talent.

Posted by Susanna728 03/01/2010 at 02:37 PM

I've been a big fan of Gulbis since 2008 as well and was so disappointed last season. So much talent. Still seems like a bit of spoiled brat though. He's got to stop wasting energy and focus, as in the Delray final, on things like a bad line call when he's up a set a break. But he's such an exciting player and someone that could keep my passion for watching tennis going in a post Fed and Nadal era (hopefully that won't come too soon though). The announcers said Gumy had coached Safin. When I heard the on-court interview with Ernests after the final, he really reminded me of Marat. Same soft spoken deep voice and same dry humor. And his physique, personality and emotional swings started to remind me of Safin too. Anyone else see those similarities?

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 03/01/2010 at 02:41 PM

noleisthe... you may not likle Ernests. You may even think of him as a kid who's had too much privilege. But I detect some serious envy in your comment. It doesn't matter how privileged a young man is, he still has to work his tail off if he's to get anywhere near the top 100, let alone gain admittance.

It is far more likely that Ernests is hyper-aware of his good fortune, and coupled with a somehwat delayed maturation, he's just now learning that it's a lot more satisfying being the guy holding the trophy at the end than it is being the mat the winners wipe their feet on. Besides, how many college-aged young men do you know who've NOT gotten themselves into a bit of hot water from time to time, given the opportunity?

Posted by gabos 03/01/2010 at 02:56 PM

And fortunately, if Gulbis' tennis career doesn't pan out, he can keep singing on those commercials.

Posted by remain anonymous 03/01/2010 at 03:37 PM

"Nikolay Davydenko, reluctant champion,"

Champion... of what??!?? Uwilling to win what eaxactly??? The guy's trash end of story!!!!!!

Posted by FoT 03/01/2010 at 03:39 PM

I still have my doubts about Gulbis. One tournament won. He had a nice week winning his first tournament. But a tournament where Tommy Haas was the #1 seed. There were no top 10 player - heck, no top 15 players in this tournament. There were good players but I wonder how he will handle playing a tournament where the top boys are entered. He actually surprised me in this tournament because I thought he'd win a match then lose the next (as had been his hobby in the past). Let's see how he does in his next tournament before we start crowning him a grand slam winner (Beckham)... *wink*

Posted by remain anonymous 03/01/2010 at 03:39 PM

Do nothing in your career, win Delray Beach (who cares), and all this?? Find something more pertinent to write about.

Posted by Pspace (Proud Rafaelite since Shakira) 03/01/2010 at 03:41 PM

Good stuff, Steve.

Every1 seems to blame Gulbis' work ethic for his woes in '09. Let's also remember that he had a pretty bad knee injury at the end of '08, and those things can cause a cascade of losses. In addition, an unfortunate partnership with Pat Etchberry...yep, he of the "let's bulk up players, and delude them into thinking that it'll take time to get used to new muscles" fame. He ruined JJ's '09 as well.

Posted by Game Lover 03/01/2010 at 04:02 PM

Good for Gulbis! He's got all the shots, just of matter of consistency/training imho...

Man, that Rafa/Shakira clip!!! lol
Even his uncle's Miguel Angel Nadal, "Macho Man"!

Posted by Abhijith Madhav 03/01/2010 at 04:14 PM

>> What does this little juggling move say about the young Latvian’s personality? He’s
>> obviously superstitious, and he’s got talent to waste.

Ha ha.. Nice.

Posted by Charles 03/01/2010 at 04:20 PM

Can we cut this "child of privilege" crap? as if it makes a difference. EVERY pro tennis player is a child of privilege, i.e. their needs were provided for; AND every pro tennis player had to work really hard to get to where they are. This constant reminder about the wealth of Gulbis' family is sanctimonious in the worst way and implies the falsehood that Ernests is lazy. The fact is irrelevant and I'm disappointed with every journalist who brings it up.

Posted by Ray T. 03/01/2010 at 05:03 PM

Nah, unlike DelPotro and Cilic who consistently improved their results to rise in the rankings the last 3 years, Gulbis has been nothing but the opposite. This was just one good result in a depleted field. He should not be taken that seriously yet when he hasn't been ranked higher than #38 and was as low as #101 just last fall without being injured.

Posted by fedfan 03/01/2010 at 05:14 PM

Perceptive and well written.

Posted by observer 03/01/2010 at 05:24 PM

Ray T.:
Typical trajectories for tennis champions mean nothing. Just to use current/recent players-- some show talent when they're young and bag the big event relatively early (Serena, Venus, Sharapova, Del Potro) and some people wait until later to break through (Henin, Mauresmo, Federer relatively). I'm not saying I think it's going to happen, but in an individual sport, pointing to the fact that Gulbis has only been to a QF in a grandslam is not proof that he will never win one or that it will be a long time before he does. It only takes 7 matches. Draws open up. People get on streaks.

Anyway, I like Ernie and hope he does well. I can't believe how nasty some of the TV commentators are about him when he's on court. The match with Murray at last US Open was brutal.

Posted by noleisthebest 03/01/2010 at 06:18 PM

Guys, Earnie is a mental midget, do not get carried away. Nothing but a flash in the pan. There are a dime a dozen of guys like him...he is a good player but not even the top 50 material.

Posted by Red⁺ = Legacy Solidified 03/01/2010 at 06:27 PM

Yeah,Earnie won!
Great post Steve.

Posted by VC 03/01/2010 at 06:30 PM

"he is a good player but not even the top 50 material."

Maybe you should let the ATP know so that they can take him out of the top 50.

Posted by noleisthebest 03/01/2010 at 06:39 PM

We'll see where he ends up
at the end of the year.

Posted by Cami 03/01/2010 at 06:43 PM

"Gulbis prefers David Lynch; that may or may not require depth, but it definitely requires patience". Haha, brilliant! And so true...

Love Gulbis, just saw some highlights of his match against Safin last year in LA and believe it or not, he was outpowering Safin. Now that's got to count for something :)))

Posted by Kombo 03/01/2010 at 06:46 PM

Glad to c Ernir win his first tourny. This success should give him added fuel to soldier on and get a taste for winning, rather than an apathetic shrug for losing. The guys got game, now for some resolve.

Posted by Kombo 03/01/2010 at 06:47 PM

noleisthebest - feel like putting some money on it?

Posted by Kishore 03/01/2010 at 07:55 PM

This is my first comment here. Wanted to say it was an excellent piece and your articles are as good as they come.

Posted by Bhai Mirzai 03/01/2010 at 08:40 PM

noleisthebest --- how did you conclude that "Ernie is a mental midget". He has not been patient as someone said above. Who knows how much mental fortitude he has or he will need if he plays to his potential.

Posted by Andrew Miller 03/01/2010 at 08:48 PM

Gulbis might have a James Blake-like career or he could surprise and pull a Del Potro.

For the moment, it looks like a James Blake-like career. Gulbis will have to morph into Mr. Steady. It's a lot harder than winning Delray (just look at Delray's past champions).

Posted by CL 03/01/2010 at 09:24 PM

Gulbis...on the trail to be the next Fed? or the next Gasquet? You decide!

Posted by Fazioli 03/01/2010 at 09:33 PM

I don't think the Gulbis-Blake comparison quite flies.

Blake, though he's fast and his strokes are big, was never really able to find a way to win without red-lining his game. Gulbis has a much better serve will win a lot more cheap points. This ought take the pressure off his baseline game and let him find a more patient, controlled aggression.

That said, it all depends on what's upstairs. [crossing fingers]

Posted by Fazioli 03/01/2010 at 09:35 PM

ahh proofreading, you let me down.... apologies.

Posted by pogiako 03/01/2010 at 10:27 PM

For those naysayers to Ernest: Are you any better? Or you are just plain jealous coz Ernest was "born with a silver spoon in his mouth" and playing professional tennis. Let the guy work his way up.

Posted by Tigress 03/01/2010 at 10:30 PM

I want to see more and more of E. Gilbus winning. Looking-hoping for a Fed-Gilbus 2010 USO Final. Roger gets Calendar Grand Slam in 3-4 sets, and Gilbus gets a valuable GS intro from the Master, in preparation for multiple GS titles in the future.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,bring back the Sleeveless 03/02/2010 at 01:14 AM

Thanks Steve, I watched Earnest at Wimbeldon 08 against Rafa and saw the "raw talent" then.He has a great fluid serve and strong ground shots as well.I noticed in the final one important thing he didnt let the occasion get to him.He diffused the Dr's serve well which is not easy.I look forward to watching Earnest and hope with his first ATP title win he can move forward.

Posted by rg.nadal 03/02/2010 at 02:27 AM

Nice article. Like Gulbis' game a good deal!

Posted by tj hughes 03/02/2010 at 04:27 AM

The comparison with Safin may turn out to be accurate, but as of now EG does not have a backhand to compare with Marat's - admittedly, very few do, it was a thing of beauty back in the day. But Gulbis has a big serve, plenty of variety and maybe - after all the brickbats about being a spolied rich kid - a healthy desire to prove a point to an uncomprehending world. I can see him going deep in Paris. As for winning a Slam? Not this year.

Posted by noleisthebest 03/02/2010 at 05:10 AM

Just to dispel any confusion, I like watching Gulbis, he has done well to get where he is having all the distraction of his background, I just don't like getting carried away and blowing someone's abilities out of proportion.
I would have preferred to see an article about Youzhny here, his backhand deserves a lot more attention than Glubis's first ATP title.

Posted by obyvatel 03/02/2010 at 06:05 AM

Here's to hoping Gulbis will do it his way!

Posted by loreley 03/02/2010 at 08:45 AM

Thank you for the article, Steve.

Gulbis ball toss is his special thing to help him to focus, he told in an interview a while ago. He does it not always, but more often again. It seems to help.

But like Charles, I hate to hear all the time about his rich family. So many other players have a wealthy background as well. And to repeat the Stockhold accident is tiring as well. Nevertheless I enjoyed the reading.

Posted by loreley 03/02/2010 at 08:49 AM

Maybe some ppl like to watch Ernests matchball and parts of the trophy ceremony:

Posted by latagaw 03/02/2010 at 09:16 AM

Thanks, Loreley, for that link.

Posted by jackdua 03/02/2010 at 09:59 AM

I'm male, 26, and just this Christmas had a brief encounter with a mature woman. It was wonderful. We met via internet dating on this site:
AgeLessMingle.CoM a good way to meet like-minded people, and she actually approached me first. It just so happens I like older women and she likes men around my age. We had an amazing day and later on she joined me at a hotel. It was like a fantasy come true. Amazing company, amazing sex too and a really warm and loving woman. She will turn 36 this month, and my goodness what a connection we had that day.

Posted by loreley 03/02/2010 at 10:09 AM

Here another Video with the on court interview:

He's asking for a wildcard for Miami. Very kind. Hopefully they give him one.

Posted by Master Ace 03/02/2010 at 10:10 AM

Ernests Gulbis is in the main draw at Indian Wells due to some players w/d due to injuries

Posted by Fazioli 03/02/2010 at 10:30 AM

Would the Moderator please have a look at the 9:59 AM post?

Despite the obvious connection to Gulbis' "extra-curriculars," I'm not sure it's appropriate....

Posted by Monica 03/02/2010 at 01:03 PM

Federer nonchalant? Not sure what you mean by that, Steve, but if you mean what the dictionary means (coolly unconcerned, indifferent, or unexcited; casual) or what the original word meant (lacking warmth), I think perhaps you're not being very astute. There's a German saying, In der Ruhe liegt die Kraft. It means Strength lies in the Calm (I may be getting my definite articles wrong, but I think the rest of it is correct). There's a difference between not feeling anything and entering the calm zone. At any rate, no one who bursts into tears both after defeat and victory can be said to be indifferent or unconcerned. It's just that some players expand their emotional energy during the match, while others, like Federer, have the discipline and self-control to keep their emotions under check until after the last point has been played.

Posted by Monica 03/02/2010 at 01:09 PM

From a purely pscyhological point of view, I'd like to follow Federer around and see how exactly he masters his self-control--which to me is as if not more more impressive than his talent. I hope that he leaves behind a detailed memoire so years from now after he's dead future generations can read it and discover his secret. But I was reading this article from New York Times and I couldn't help but think of Federer. He's a highly successful performer who, as far as we know, does not suffer from depression. At least not yet: Amazing!

Posted by TILDEN'S GHOST 03/02/2010 at 02:44 PM

Oh rejoice thus for I have seen the future of tennis and it's name is Ernests Gulbis! Let us now praise the man (boy?). Henceforth he shall be know as the BIG E! His curly locks call to me and say, " Follow me for I know the way." Oh Ernests how did I ever live without you? What could I have seen in that Federer guy? Oh well......order in the universe has been restored and we have Ernests to thank for it. Nevermind the fact that Dr Ivo played like Dr Dumbass and that Ernests will never win again, these trivial details are of no use for Ernests toothy grin enlightens us all! Did I mention I'm insane?

Posted by JimF 03/02/2010 at 03:32 PM

For anyone who didn't see the match, the way Gulbis was returning Karlovic's serve was unprecedented. He didn't merely get breaks he attacked the best serve in tennis, like (as another commenter put it) it was Dementieva's second serve.

Everyone that I've seen beat Karlovic starts by blocking back the serve, but nobody attacks it -- not Federer, not Nadal, not Murray, nobody. Gulbis was stepping inside the baseline and ripping winners off Karlovic's FIRST serve.

I've seen him in person do the same thing with Roddick. It is as if the game moves slower for Gulbis; I don't know if that is vision, or a mental skill, but it is perhaps unique.

Posted by evangelyst 03/02/2010 at 03:40 PM

I think Gulbis will be more like Berdych with a big game, but too inconsistent to win regularly especially at a GS.

Posted by evangelyst 03/02/2010 at 03:48 PM

While some players seem to be finding their best form later in their careers (Davydenko, Soderling, Verdasco etc.) as mentioned in previous posts, its a little disappointing that there seem to be no truly exciting teenage talents featuring in major tournaments.

Who could be the next breakthrough player? Tomic, Dmitrov? Or someonel else? What do you guys think?

Posted by The Fan Child 03/02/2010 at 11:06 PM

I watched from the sidelines as he confidently assaulted Teimuraz Gabashvili in the 2nd round at Delray Beach. His serve has incredible pop, as does his forehand. It was really impressive to watch him pull it all together and win convincingly on a windy day with less than 100 fans looking on.

It's hard not to be intrigued when you see him up close. If he can continue to develop his mental game and reign himself in when he's not in perfect position (as Steve mentioned) he can move much higher in the rankings.

I also think his fitness will need to improve.

He's an exciting player to watch for sure.

Posted by Sad Smiles 03/03/2010 at 09:24 AM

Agreed Fan Child.
Ernest is really talented. And I think he is in right hands. Couple of good results will land him up in top20 very quickly. After that, it is a matter of posting top 10 wins and time will only tell how he will do it. But one thing for sure, he is a very dangerous opponent in best of 3.

Posted by Ad-out 03/03/2010 at 10:49 AM

Thanks so much for the article. I am a big Ernests fan and was so happy that he got the title at Delray. Here's hoping for a great run at IW!

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