Gulbis' mom told him to quit tennis in February
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Ernests Gulbis scored his first top 10 win since Wimbledon on Saturday, dismissing No. 9 Janko Tipsarevic 6-2, 6-0 in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open and extending his winning streak to 12 matches.
Gulbis has turned around his spiraling career over the last two weeks. He won eight matches as a qualifier in Delray Beach, Fla., en route to the title, and he's already won four matches as a qualifier at Indian Wells to make the third round of an ATP Masters 1000 for the first time since 2011.
And to think, his mom wanted him to quit the sport last month.
Gulbis began the 2013 season ranked outside the top 100 and chose to skip the Australian Open swing to stay in Europe to train. That decision didn't pay off immediately, though, and after losing in the first round of an ATP Challenger in Bergamo, Italy, in February, Gulbis said his mother told him to quit.
"I told her, 'Give me one more month,'" he said, laughing. "So now at least she's happy."
Since Bergamo, Gulbis hasn't lost to anyone ranked outside the Top 10 and suffered only two losses, to Juan Martin Del Potro (Rotterdam) and Tomas Berdych (Marseille). Delray Beach was his first title since 2011 and vaulted him back into the top 100, at No. 67. Consistency has eluded the talented 24-year-old throughout his career, but he hopes things will be different this time.
"It's been really like a third chance now, fourth," he joked when asked about whether this was his second chance at the promising career he's capable of. "I hope it's my last one. I hope that this is the one where I make it.
"I want to play like I played when I was 15, 16, 17 years old, when I just came on tour. I played relaxed, aggressive tennis. I didn't think much. I just went for it. I didn't think how short or how big [my swing] is going. Just [the] ball came, I hit it. Then suddenly I started to think, you know, ball comes, what to do, and then how many steps and this and that. Then your just brain goes out of order.
"So story of my life, you know. I reach something, and then I destroy it. So now I'm going to reach something and I'm going to keep reaching something new, I hope." Next up for Gulbis is 20th-seed Andreas Seppi. Win that match and he could take on Rafael Nadal in the fourth round.