Qualifier Ernests Gulbis battled past the No.20 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-5, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 to reach the second round of the Australian Open 2020 on Tuesday. The Canadian has failed to win a single match at the hardcourt slams – Australian Open and US Open.
Gulbis hit a total of 39 winners in the course of four sets, winning 79 percent of first serves with 11 aces. On the other hand, Felix hit 42 unforced errors against only 31 winners.
With no troubles on either of the service games, the set saw no break chances till the ninth game. It was the qualifier Gulbis, who blinked first as Felix Auger-Aliassime got the first break of the set.
However, the Canadian failed to serve out the set at 5-4 as Gulbis earned the break back. Auger-Aliassime was broken once again while he was serving to stay in the set as the Latvian secured the opening set 7-5 after 50 minutes of gruelling tennis.
In a replication of the first set, the 20th seed broke Gulbis in the ninth game before saving 3 breakpoints in the previous game and come back from 0-40 down to hold a crucial serve game.
The 31-year-old looked to break Felix as he went up 40-0 while he serving for the second set. However, the next-gen star once again saved the three break chances and served out the set 6-4 in 48 minutes. The 19-year-old saved a total of six break points in the set.
The games with the serve till 6-6 as both the players held their service games to force the set to the tiebreaker. In the tiebreaker, Gulbis changed gears as he was all over the young Canadian.
Gulbis was up 5-1 within a flash, but Felix rallied hard to close the gap at 5-3. However, he failed to stop the attacking Latvian as he clinched a tight third set 7-6(4) in 1 hour and 7 minutes.
Gulbis carried his momentum in the fourth as he broke Felix Auger-Aliassime in the 5th game to get a 3-2 lead on serve before saving three breakpoints in the previous game to hold a crucial service game. Felix held his nerves in the tough moments as he held his serves. However, a focused Gulbis served out the set 6-4 and win the match after 3 hours and 35 minutes.