A tournament already short on star power lost one of its few recognizable names Thursday.
No. 3 seed Sam Querrey, No. 23 in the world rankings, was bounced in the second round of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships, losing to No. 109-ranked Ernests Gulbis 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4). Querrey was up 4-0 in the third set but double-faulted the game away when up 5-4 and then served up two double faults to give Gulbis the winning points in the tiebreaker.
“I’m pretty bummed,” Querrey said. “At 5-4 was tentative on some shots, the double fault killed me, then it’s a 50-50 match after that.”
Earlier, No. 2 seed Tommy Haas defeated Denis Istomin 6-4, 6-1 to advance to the quarterfinals against Ivan Dodig. In late matches, defending champion Kevin Anderson, the No. 6 seed, beat Yen-Heun Lu 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, and No. 1 seed John Isner faced Go Soeda. Isner and Anderson would meet in the quarterfinals if both advanced. Of the eight seeded players in the tournament, only Isner, Haas and Anderson remain after two rounds.
Querrey, 25, seemed to be in control after dropping the first set. He broke Gulbis early in the second set and twice in a row to start the third set for a 4-0 lead. Gulbis’ frustrations were evident — he smashed his racket and earned an equipment warning in the second set and was docked a point for cursing in the third set.
Gulbis, who was ranked No. 21 in February 2011, said he doesn’t mind showing emotion.
“Everybody likes it. It’s part of the fire in the game,” Gulbis said. “I think tennis lost a little bit of its fire. Which interesting characters do we have nowadays? I’m not scared to show my emotions. It’s a fight.
“Sometimes it’s better not to show your emotions, play with a poker face, but sometimes it’s just not possible.”
Gulbis, 24, said he was frustrated with the line judges and lost his concentration after winning the first set, but was able to recompose midway through the third. He said he will be even more upset if he draws a fine from the ATP for his four-letter outburst. He hasn’t gotten much sleep since arriving from Marseille, France, last Thursday, and having to first play in the qualifying tournament.
“We come here, we fight our (tail) off, we travel with our own money,” said Gulbis, who won the ITC in 2010. “I get fined, and I cannot fine nobody. If I get a money fine then I’m going to get in a big fight with them.”
Querrey was dominant at times with his big serve, which topped out at 130 mph, but Gulbis fired back with his own big serve, topping out at 128 mph. Both won about 36 percent of their return points, but Gulbis finished with more more aces, 14-11. And he didn’t double fault in crucial moments.
“He always serves big, but I thought he did a good job of returning today,” Querrey said. “I thought I had him on the ropes, but he can get hot and he just rips some winners and he’s right back in it.”
Querrey will now get an extended rest before heading to Indian Wells next week.
“The good news is I don’t have my first round at Indian wells until next Saturday or Sunday, so I’ve got 10 days to regroup,” he said.