French Open Day 8 picks: Federer vs. Gulbis, Berdych vs. Isner

The Grandstand’s Ricky Dimon and Jared Pine of the Second Serb preview and pick two of the best men’s singles matchups on Sunday at Roland Garros. The marquee match features two very different players both on and off the court in Roger Federer and Ernests Gulbis.

(18) Ernests Gulbis vs. (4) Roger Federer

Ricky: Gulbis is by no means the most-respected player in the tennis world, so recent comments have been blown out of proportion in an attempt to overshadow the fact that the Latvian is playing the best tennis of his career. He will give Federer all the Swiss can handle, but the 17-time slam champion has more experience than just about anyone and will likely play a tactically smart match in which he exposes his opponent’s forehand. Remember the Gulbis vs. Andy Roddick night-session birthday battle at the 2008 U.S. Open. Then just 20 (he turned 20 that day, while Roddick turned 26 with the same birth date), a confident Gulbis came out on fire and served for a two-set lead before letting it all slip away. Something similar may take place on Sunday.  Federer 4-6, 7-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Jared:Gulbis entered Roland Garros with the worst record in Grand Slams (20-26) of any player in the top 30. Since he reached the 2008 quarterfinals in Paris, he has gone 12-21, but with a win on Sunday he could put the perfect bookend on this chapter of his career with another quarterfinal appearance. And his opponent is the polar opposite of him. Federer is the most accomplished male tennis player in slam history and was in cruise control for the most part in his first three matches. Gulbis will be Federer’s first real test, but he won’t be able to defeat his “superb image of a Swiss gentleman.” Federer 7-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.

(6) Tomas Berdych vs. (10) John Isner

: Berdych has won four of their previous six encounters, a somewhat modest record that in no way tells the true story of the history between these two. In just six matches against the 6’10” American, Berdych has generated an incredible 52 break chances and has broken serve a hard-to-believe 21 times. The Czech is not exactly considered one of the best returners in tennis, but nobody reads the Isner serve like he does. But this won’t be a rout, because Berdych has been far from dominant so far and Isner conserved energy by finishing off both Mikhail Kukushkin and Tommy Robredo prior to a fifth set. Berdych 7-6, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6.

Jared: Berdych and Isner may combine for more than 13 feet in height, but when it comes to success at Roland Garros, these two combined for just a 6-6 record over the past three installments of the event with only one appearance in the second week. Still, when this match concludes, one of them will be a FO quarterfinalist. Berdych leads the head-to-head series 4-2, and in those six matches there have been a total of 32 breaks of serve. Berdych has had more success than any player on tour returning the Isner serve. If the No. 1 American is to have a chance, he will have to keep his 65-game unbroken streak alive deep into this round of 16 match. Berdych 6-3, 6-7, 6-4, 7-5.

46 Comments on French Open Day 8 picks: Federer vs. Gulbis, Berdych vs. Isner

  1. On a lighter side, at least Fed didn’t lose to Berdych. Can’t stand Fed’s losses to TBerd!

  2. It’s 2am here, I don’t think it’s worth staying up for the rest of djokovic/Tsonga…..

  3. Raonic through. I am sure he will give Djokovic a bit more of a work-out than this joke Tsonga

      • I have hopes from Raonis to def take it to Djokovic, if not beat him atleast take it to 4 or 5. Investment in Ljujibic is the best thing that has happened to Raonic

  4. RT @ESPNTennis: “In just 27 minutes, Djokovic takes the first set 61 over Tsonga. #RG14 #ESPNTennis”

    What a joke……….

  5. Ben Rothenberg ‏@BenRothenberg · 10m
    No time for Roger Federer yet in press—hearing he’s being delayed by drug testers. #RG14

  6. I’m glad I’m not French, not a Tsonga fan, and not at RG witnessing this match.

    I remarked recently that Tsonga is one of the few Frenchmen who does not fall apart at RG and is capable of catching fire. Apparently his team forgot to light the fire.

  7. I have a feeling that Tsonga doesn’t prepare for his matches. He appears far too casual. All the French don’t seem to have the fight in them.

  8. Nor did I in truth but I thought he might at least make a match of it. I’ve never cared for his Joe Wilful brand of tennis or understood why he is such a crowd pleaser.

  9. Raonic giving Novak a tough match in a best two out of three set match, is very different from playing a best three out of five set match. I don’t know if Raonic can give him trouble in that kind of match.

  10. I am not quaking in my boots after watching that interview. What Novak probably told him is just how hard it is to try to take on Rafa at RG. This guy won’t have any pressure, so he can just try to go for it. But hanging with Rafa in a best three out of five set match at RG is probably the toughest task in tennis.

  11. From the Twitter World.
    RT Ricky Dimon @…. “if Gulbis wins in 4 after the medical timeout, the hate he incurred from the press conference will pale in comparison to this…”

    So, the hate the legion of the Federazzi always spread everywhere is created by pro-Fed journos!!! Good to know!

  12. Mon dieu!! Tsonga! What the what!??? Glad I didn’t watch. Brutal score line. At least Muguruza won.

  13. I saw the replay of the Fed/Gulbis match. At least what they decided to show us. They skipped parts of it. However, I did notice that when Fed left the court after he lost, the crowd gave him a standing ovation. The tennis channel commentators even pointed it out. So they do love the Fed there.

    They did flashback to show the part where Gulbis had to go off court for treatment and then came bac to boos from the crowd. But he was waving his arms and kind of playing along with them. I am surprised that Gulbis was able to keep it together in a five set match. He was mentally strong and just kept playing his game. I didn’t think he had it in him at this point in his career. The guy has the talent to take out any player on a given day, but just hasn’t seemed motivated to work hard, practice, get physically and mentally fit enough and just make the effort to be able to play well consistently. Is he now ready to go even deeper here? I don’t know.

  14. That MTO was blatant gamesmanship right down to leaving the court so we didn’t see what ‘treatment’ was involved. Still Federer is losing his touch if he let that get to him.

  15. On the tennis channel they were kind of debating whether the MTO was for real. It was kind of mixed, with nobody really wanting to come right out and say that it was fake. I think Gulbis kind of revels in taunting the crowd. He seems to get a kick out of it.

    I saw some of his presser after the match and he spoke about how he had to stay focused and play at a high level and not let the crowd get to him. Then he said that getting the early break in that fifth set was important because it took the crowd out of it. He said that if it stayed tight with no breaks, then the crowd could have been a factor. So he was well aware that they were not on his side!

    The bottom line is that Gulbis is a spoiled rich brat. I don’t praise him for being supposedly “honest” because I think he says thing because he can get away with it. For a guy who has thrown away his considerable natural gifts, he seems to have quite the ego. If I were him, I would be embarrassed at wasting my talent and ability.

  16. If he is serious about reaching the top 10 he needs to clean up his act ASAP.

    He could start by embracing the concept of good sportsmanship. And at least TRY to conceal his total contempt for opponents, court officials and spectators.

  17. One commentator on the tennis channel said that if you have a hamstring or hip problem then you would have to go off court to have it treated. But others were skeptical. I didn’t see it live and it’s hard to judge when you just have a few moments replayed without seeing it in context. I understand that Fed had the momentum at that time.

    I just don’t see Gulbis cleaning up his act. I read all of his comments and it’s clear that he doesn’t like playing by the rules. He also think it’s boring to be polite and a good sportsman. That’s too bad. He’s had everything handed to him on a silver platter, doesn’t know what it means to work for something and make sacrifices. I don’t think this leopard will change his spots. However, I do agree that if he is serious about making the top ten, then he should clean up his act.

    • Growing up that privileged has not helped Gulbis once he reached the higher echelons of tennis, On the contrary, in his case. Now that he has been working hard since 2012 to do a lot if possible with his abilities I try to look at him with new eyes, not the way I did in the past. I have no idea about that MTO so take his words at face value.

  18. As Gulbis has risen in the rankings, I’ve been paying more attention to his matches and watching more of them, or at least parts of them. I’ve also been paying more attention to his interviews. I’m not a Gulbis fan at all, but I listened to his explanation of his MTO that he gave during his press conference and it seems reasonable. I’m willing to take his explanation at face value. Here’s the part of his presser where he talks about the MTO.

  19. nativenewyorker7@June 1, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    —Gulbis had to go off court for treatment and then came bac to boos from the crowd—

    It’s the traditional behavior of the legion of the Federazzi. I haven’t heard that they have booed when Fed has left the court for treatment.
    And of course pro-Fed commentators don’t recall Fed’s MTOs. And of course legionaries of the Federazzi (plus pro-Fed commentators) have never said that Fed’s MTOs have been blatant gamesmanship.

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