Enigmatic Latvian Ernests Gulbis won the second title of his career at the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles, defeating ATP No. 9 and top seed Mardy Fish 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in the final. Gulbis' one previous title came at Delray Beach in 2010.
Except for lapses late in the first and third sets, Gulbis was unflappable against No. 1 American Fish, who was riding an eight-match win streak after his title last week in Atlanta. His ground strokes were huge, and his proclivity for drop shots didn't get him into nearly as much trouble as it often does.
Gulbis had lost five straight matches coming into Los Angeles, so for his game to suddenly improve to the point where he can win five matches in a week, against a recent Grand Slam champion (Juan Martin del Potro) and a current top-tenner (Fish) is pretty remarkable. The potential has always been there, but it seems like, at least for the moment, Gulbis' head is no longer an obstacle for his incredible talent.
What caused this sudden change in Gulbis, you ask? Is it his renewed health? Is it his partnership with new coach Guillermo Canas?
For me, it has to be his recent interview with Tennis Channel's James LaRosa, which is a must-read. Unsure if you're going to click on that link? A few quick quotes:
"If you meet a new person it takes energy, you know? If you meet a girl, I’m not ready to go in relationship with her straight away, so it’s like, what is in my mind? For every normal guy, in your mind is to get the girl in bed. As soon as possible."
"I like pure vodka. Shots, with some nice food. Also one very good drink which I like, you drink a shot of vodka and then you drink milk. The milk is very good for your stomach. After vodka it calms you down. You don’t get the burning feeling. Try it."
If Gulbis doesn't sound like a winner (especially in the Charlie Sheen sense of the term, I suppose), I don't know who does.
Stay tuned to SB Nation's coverage of the 2011 US Open Series at SBNation.com as well as on Twitter, @DailyForehand .