Gulbis Defeats Blake; Djokovic, Murray Advance

July 31, 2008 08:30 AM

Latvian teenager Ernests Gulbis advanced to his first career ATP Masters Series quarterfinal with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 victory over No. 7 seed and last year's finalist James Blake on Thursday.

The 19-year-old, who is making his first main draw appearance in Cincinnai, beat Blake for the second time this year after posting a four-sets win at Roland Garros in May.

"Because I haven't played against top 10 players so much in my career, so beating one of them, of course, gives me more confidence," said Gulbis, who is 3-4 lifetime against Top 10 players. "But I knew that he's a tougher opponent on hard court than he is on clay, so I was a little bit nervous. But as the match went on I played pretty well in the beginning. I lost my concentration in the second set. But in the third set, yeah, you saw it, I mean... so I'm happy about it."

After splitting the first two sets, the decisive break in the third set came at 5-3 and Gulbis capped the one hour and 47-minute match with his 10th ace.

The No. 53rd-ranked Gulbis will be appearing in his third quartefinal of the season against friend and World No. 3 Novak Djokovic, who reached his first quarterfinal in Cincinnati with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Italian Andreas Seppi.

Djokovic will be making his sixth ATP Masters Series quarterfinal (or better) showing this year and he defeated Gulbis 7-5, 7-6(3), 7-5 in their previous meeting in the quarters at Roland Garros in June.

"We've known each other for a long time. As I was saying before, I've practiced with him for a couple of years in Germany in tennis academy of Niki Pilic," said Djokovic. "Back then, I noticed his great talent for the game. He was always kind of tall for his age and strong and he was also hitting these powerful shots. It was a matter of time when he was going to make this breakthrough and just gain the experience with the time. Obviously he's showing his quality now and he's one of the young rising stars that we expect to see more in the future."

In other matches, No. 8 seed Andy Murray reached the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Russian Dmitry Tursunov. Murray will play unseeded Carlos Moya in the quarterfinals.

Moya, who captured the title here in 2002, finished his suspended second round match from Wednesday night by defeating World No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko 7-6(8), 4-6, 6-2. Moya then beat another Russian, Igor Andreev 6-4, 7-6(2), to reach the quarterfinals for the second straight year and for the fourth time in the last seven visits.

Murray converted four of seven break points and lost his serve once in the 68-minute match. The 21-year-old British No. 1 will be appearing in the Cincinnati quarterfinals for the second time in three years. He improved to 32-12 on the season by reaching his seventh quarterfinal (or better).

German Philipp Kohlschreiber saved two match points and went to 3-0 lifetime against Swede Robin Soderling with a 7-6(4), 5-7, 7-6(10) win. Kohlschreiber will play No. 16 seed Ivo Karlovic for the first time in his first Cincinnati quarterfinal.