Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis has been unable to turn around his serious slump in form, losing to former world number four, James Blake, in the opening round of the Atlanta Tennis Championship on Monday. Serving for the match leading 5-4 in the second set, Gulbis failed to close out, allowing the American Blake to come back to claim the set and eventually – following a brief rain delay – also take the third set and the match 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-2. The rain delay appeared to have a bigger effect on the Latvian, who would not win one more game following the break in play. Gulbis’ mental game will now undoubtedly once more be called into question. The world no. 81 managed to push Blake, ranked 91, to break point on 20 occasions but only break him on three, while on serve he was able to produce 17 aces, compared to eight from Blake. Gulbis’ run of losses now extends to five with his last victory coming back in May.
Also making an appearance in Atlanta following an extended four-month injury-induced stint on the sidelines was young Lithuanian star Richard Berankis. Understandably, Berankis was more than a little rusty in his first competitive game in a long while, but was still able to push Frenchman Nicolas Mahut before falling in straight sets 7-6 (5), 6-2. Berankis struggled on his own serve, producing five aces, but just as many double faults, whilst managing to win just 45 percent of points on his first serve. Mahut was able to take the Lithuanian to break point on seven occasions, breaking him four times, while Berankis could only manage to break back twice. Berankis has seen his ranking suffer a significant drop while sitting on the sidelines with his current ranking seeing him placed at 115 in the world after being as high as 73 at the end of January. Later in the week Berankis is also expected to compete in the men’s doubles draw.
Estonia’s Rein Taaramae has remained in touch with the leaders of the Tour de France through the first 16 stages to be sitting in 13th position overall, nine minutes and two seconds behind current race leader Thomas Voeckler of France. Riding as lead rider for French team Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne, Taaramae finished consistently amongst the peleton over the tour’s opening flat stages before lifting his momentum in the mountains, keeping well in touch with the leaders at the end of each day’s stage. To date, however, Taaramae has been denied Le Tour’s white jersey, which is awarded to Le Tour’s leading junior rider. Taaramae has remained in second position in the youth rider overall standings for the majority of the race, first trailing Robert Gesink of the Netherlands and now Rigoberto Uran of Colombia. Taaramae’s team currently sits in ninth position in the overall team standings, 29 minutes and 51 seconds behind Team Garmin-Cervelo. Lithuanian riders Tomas Vaitkus and Ramunas Navardauskas are currently placed in 135th and 165th positions overall, with 170 riders still remaining in the race which concludes in Paris on July 24.