Hope floats in Bangkok
So close, yet so far.
That is the most apt sentiment to describe Ernests’ chillingly close loss to the Thailand Open top seed, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, in the second round of the Bangkok tournament today.
The fast indoor hard court worked like a charm to Ernests’ advantage as he gunned down 23 aces and saved all break points against him.
He took the first set in a tiebreak but lost the next in the same manner.
Both men held serve convincingly in the decider, with no ground at all offered to the receiving player.
Fittingly enough, that set too was determined with a tiebreak.
Ernests sped into the lead after mini-breaking Tsonga in the first point of the tiebreak.
However, he lost the advantage when a backhand sailed long two points later.
Nonetheless, he did not look visibly flustered – at least, not until his forehand winner when serving at 2*-3 was wrongly called out to give a minibreak to Tsonga.
Still rattled, he was quickly mini-broken again to hand Tsonga a 5-2 lead, and the defending champion wasted no time in serving out the match to progress to the quarterfinals.
Despite the loss, Ernests’ fans have much to look forward to, as his game appeared to be on the upturn. He served well and no longer deployed the dropshot as recklessly as he once had, although his concentration during rallies still needs to be improved.
With two more weeks to go before the culmination of the Asian hard court swing, it is premature to speculate as to whether Ernests’ new cooperation with Hernan Gumy will lead to his long-awaited breakthrough.
However, if his performance against Tsonga is an indication of the future, then good tidings may well be close on the horizon.
ATP BANGKOK: (1) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) def. Ernests Gulbis (LAT) 6:7(3) 7:6(4) 7:6(2)