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Qualifying begins: 26 June

The Draw: 30 June

Pre-event Press Conferences: 1 & 2 July

Order of Play: 2 July

Championships begin: 3 July


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Thursday, 6 July 2017 15:44 PM BST
Gulbis dispatches Del Potro to book date with Djokovic
World No.589 Ernests Gulbis into third round after straight sets win over No.29 seed READ MORE

Ernests Gulbis has the sort of hipster beard you would anticipate seeing on the streets of east London rather than on the lawns of the south west. He also has the ranking - world No.589 - you would expect from the lowest levels of professional tennis rather than in the main draw of The Championships. 

But, almost from nowhere - right out of the afternoon haze on No.3 Court - the Latvian produced his best tennis in years to defeat Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro and become the lowest-ranked man to appear in the third round of a major for 15 seasons (since Dutchman Richard Krajicek, who was world No.1093 when he made the last 32 of The Championships in 2002). If Gulbis belts the ball like this when he plays Novak Djokovic on Saturday in the third round, it could be a very unsettling afternoon for the Serbian, who has hopes this fortnight of winning Wimbledon for the fourth time. 

This isn't a "lucky beard". Lucky beards don't have you striking the ball like this. Gulbis has just been too lazy to shave. This was a performance that came from talent and application. "This is very satisfying," Gulbis said after his 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(3) win, which was only his fourth victory - at any level - all year.

Coming into Wimbledon, Gulbis hadn't won a match at tour level for 13 months and he is at his lowest ranking for 12 years, as the former world No.10 has suffered a number of injuries over the last couple of seasons (he took his place in the draw thanks to an injury protected ranking of No.99). Understandably, it had been widely predicted that Del Potro would go through to play Djokovic, in what would have been a rematch of their five-setter in the semi-finals of the 2013 Championships.

But Gulbis, winner by outrageous winner, hijacked those plans. You probably have to spool back to the 2014 French Open, when Gulbis unseated Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych on his run to the semi-finals, for the last time that he performed to this standard at a Grand Slam, or indeed any tournament. 


Latvian tennis is certainly having a moment, with the resurgence of Gulbis following quickly after Jelena Ostapenko, just 20 years of age, scored her first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros last month. And with these Latvians, there are no half-measures. Just like Ostapenko, who showed no self-doubt or inhibitions in Paris, Gulbis is happy to rip a tennis ball. There aren't many occasions when Del Potro is out-hit, but this was certainly one of them, with Gulbis landing 26 winners in the opening set alone. In all, Gulbis hit 60 winners, double Del Potro's tally.

But Gulbis showed poise as well as power. Such was his composure, he didn't even lose his way after a lengthy delay in the second set as medics attended to a spectator who had fainted in the heat, and who was then carried out on a stretcher (Del Potro showed his compassionate side during the emergency by fetching a bottle of water for the woman). There also was no wobble from Gulbis in the third set when he lost his break.

No matter, no drama; Gulbis took the match in the tie-break.


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