Paris: Ernests Gulbis condemned Roger Federer to his worst French Open defeat in a decade on Sunday.
Latvian Gulbis beat the fourth seeded 2009 champion as Federer, 32, suffered his earliest loss in Paris since 2004 when he was demolished in the third round by Gustavo Kuerten.
Victory on Sunday would have put Federer into a record 42nd Grand Slam quarter final and 10th in a row in Paris, but 25-year-old Gulbis showed no fear as he set up a last-eight clash against Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych.
“I was all over the place,” admitted Federer. “I am disappointed not to win. I have a lot of regrets. But he did a good job of hanging around and coming back. I knew what to expect, I know how he plays. I just wish I could have played better.”
Gulbis, who took a controversial medical timeout at 2-5 down in the fourth set, was delighted by his win. “It’s the biggest win of my career,” said the Latvian, whose only other Grand Slam quarter-final appearance came in Paris in 2008.
“It was a tough match and I’m sorry as I know that most of you wanted Roger to win,” Gulbis said.
“I had to win, I know how all of you love Roger, but that’s sport,” world No.17 Gulbis said on the court, as the stunned fans looked on.
“I won tournaments in Marseille and Nice so hopefully Paris is the next one. I win, I win over some fans,”
Gulbis, the 18th seed, was a break ahead in the first set at 4-2 before Federer retrieved it in the seventh game.
The Latvian was also a mini-break to the good in the tie-breaker but still could not convert.
After surrendering the advantage of an early break again in the second set, Gulbis was warned for breaking his racquet by stamping it into the Paris dirt.
However, his pressure on Federer eventually yielded rewards in the second set tie-break and then in the third set through which he romped with breaks in the sixth and eighth games.
Federer wasn’t finished as Gulbis, as so often in his colourful career, went spectacularly off the boil with the Swiss levelling the contest by taking the fourth set.
The Latvian incurred the wrath of the pro-Federer Centre Court crowd when he took a medical timeout to treat lower back pain at 2-5 down.
He thrived on the atmosphere, upping the pace. The seven-year age gap between the two men told on Federer who was quickly 0-3 down in the decider.
Gulbis set up two match points with his 13th ace and claimed his famous victory when Federer slapped a backhand wide.
It was a sobering loss for Federer whose last three appearances in Paris have resulted in steadily diminishing returns with a semi-final loss in 2012, followed by a quarter-final exit last year and then Sunday’s fourth round exit.