Stakhovsky topples Gulbis, scoring another big upset at Wimbledon
LONDON -- A year after defeating Roger Federer on Wimbledon's "Wacky Wednesday" in the upset of the tournament, Sergiy Stakhovsky pulled off another upset -- this time the Ukrainian, ranked No. 90 in the ATP, ousted No. 12 Ernests Gulbis 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5) to advance to the third round of Wimbledon for the second-straight year.
Stakhovsky, an ATP journeyman, hasn't done much since last year's career-defining triumph, but his serve and volley game remains dangerous on grass.
"The surface is fast. [There's] no bounce. It's speedy. It's exactly what I need," Stakhovsky said. "So pretty much I have the chance of finishing that volley if I have it. On other surfaces, not so easy."
He didn't have Gulbis' power off the ground or off the serve, but Stakhovsky was ruthlessly efficient, hitting 34 winners to just eight unforced errors and winning a staggering 81 percent of his second-serve points.
"Today he served well in the match," Gulbis said. "Nothing was working from my side. Two of my biggest weapons, my serve and return, wasn't there. Especially the serve. I couldn't get any free points from my serve.
"Sergiy, a lot of credit to him. That's why he beat Roger last year. That's why he beat Roger last year on grass. The guy has a good game plan. He comes in; he chips the ball; he takes out the pace. I just wasn't hitting the ball well enough today."
Now the question for Stakhovsky is whether he can carry his momentum into his third-round match. After ousting Federer last year, the seemingly never-ending press obligations left him emotionally drained, and he lost to Jurgen Melzer easily in the third round. This year he'll play Jeremy Chardy -- another Federer-beater -- who is coming off a tough five-set win over Marinko Matosevic.
Despite the early loss, it's been a successful six-month campaign for Gulbis; at the French Open last month, he beat Federer and Tomas Berdych to reach the semifinals for the first time at a Grand Slam. However, the run may have taken too much out of him physically to allow him to play his best on grass. Gulbis says he would have liked to have played more grass-court matches before the tournament to get comfortable with the surface change, but now he'll enjoy some well-deserved time off. He doesn't expect to play before the Rogers Cup in the beginning of August.