Tennis might have a way to go to replace hockey as Latvia’s favorite sport, but now that 19-year-old Ernests Gulbis has reached the quarterfinals of the French Open, the game could well have a higher profile.
Gulbis will face Serbia’s Novak Djokovic on June 3 in the men’s singles quarterfinals. The two players are longtime friends, according to media reports, since the days they trained at a tennis academy in Munich, Germany.
Djokovic is ranked third in singles play, while Gulbis is way back at 80th.
In a victory that surprised tennis fans and sports journalists, Gulbis on June 1 defeated France’s Michael Llodra to advance to the elite eight of one of the premier events in tennis. Gulbis is the first Latvian to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament. (The other Grand Slam tournaments are the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.) Last year, Gulbis reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open.
Gulbis turned professional in 2004, according to his profile on the official Web site of the French Open. The right-hander has earned USD 461,485 so far, including USD 100,560 this year alone.
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