Latvian tennis star Ernests Gulbis believes he could compete against the best this year if he manages to stay healthy. The 30-year-old made a good start to his 2019 campaign as he beat Portugal's Pedro Sousa 6-4 4-6 6-4 in the Tata Open Maharashtra first round.
Gulbis, ranked at No. 95 in the world, blew an early break but broke the Portuguese once again in the fifth game and then held on to his serve the rest of the set to clinch the opener. World No. 104 Sousa fought back as he broke the Latvian in the 10th game of the second set to force a decider.
However, Gulbis kept his focus as he broke Sousa in the fifth game of the third set and then held on to his serve to reach the Pune round-of-16. "The goal is to play well, the goal is to be injury free. If I can play well stay away from injury then I can compete with the best," Gulbis said post-match, per the AFP.
Gulbis reached the French Open semi-final in 2014 and achieved his career-high ranking of No. 10 in the world that same year. Unfortunately, the Latvian then failed to continue his rise after struggling with health issues.
"I don't set many goals but to stabilise myself in the top 50, that's for sure," Gulbis added. Gulbis plays next No. 2 seed Hyeon Chung. Also read: Thanasi Kokkinakis feels he belongs in Brisbane International main draw