[CR14] Ernests Gulbis (LAT) vs. [CR65] Denis Istomin (UZB)
When two players step on court, the external differences are readily apparent; however, the internal differences may play a more important role in the outcome of the match. When talent is relatively equal, what gives a player the advantage over his opponent? Istomin had never beaten Gulbis, not due to a lack of talent but because he struggles with performance anxiety. Unfortunately for Istomin when he is overwhelmed, as seemed to be the case for the majority of his career, he loses the rhythm on his strokes and spends the entire match making errors.
Gulbis remains an intriguing character, not because of his talent, but because of his indifferent approach to tennis. There is never much conviction that he is as passionate about tennis as his opponents. When you lack the benefit of motivation, your skills may not always be enough to guarantee you a victory and Gulbis found that out today. Istomin steadied his nerves after faltering on his first attempt to serve out the first set and won it 7-5. Gulbis lost all interest after that and easily gifted away the second set. Istomin won for the first time against Gulbis 7-5, 6-2 because he maintained his commitment to the match.