By Chris Oddo | Saturday, August 30, 2014
Dominic Thiem and Ernests Gulbis were unwilling accomplices in a must-see matchup on Day 5 at the US Open.
Photo Source: Getty
20-year-old Austrian Dominic Thiem didn’t feel much like celebrating his first five-set win at a major on Day 5, and neither did his coach Gunter Bresnik. That’s because the player that Thiem defeated, Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, has been Thiem’s training partner for the last two years, and they’re both coached by Bresnik.
The meeting, dubbed on Twitter as the “Bresnik Bowl,” was the second for Gulbis and Thiem, but yesterday’s second-round match at the US Open marked the first time they met in a main draw, and the first time at a major.
“It's tough. I hated the situation,” said Thiem, after rallying from two sets down to triumph, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. “I mean, it's a really great win for me. It's first time zero to two sets, first time five sets. I would prefer it against everybody else, but not him. I would be happier if it would have happened against someone else… It was a very strange situation.”
Theim has been touted as one of the tour’s best young talents during his first full season on tour, while Gulbis has enjoyed a renaissance season that saw him reach the last four at Roland Garros as well as crack the ATP’s top ten for the first time in his career.
Clearly Bresnik, who also has worked with Boris Becker, is doing something right. But Bresnik was more concerned with doing wrong on this strange day; he elected to stop coaching on Day 5, as he didn’t want to get involved in the matchup between his two pupils.
“Today, I didn’t talk to them,” Bresnik told Christopher Clarey of the New York Times, prior to their match. “I told them this already after they won their first-round matches. I’m just going at be at the warm-up, feed you the balls and whatever you need, but I’m not going to give any advice to anyone. They have practiced together now for two years, and really intensely. They go four weeks in Spain, and they practice together four or five hours. They go running together, and they do gym work together. They eat together and so they know each other so well. It would be ridiculous to give them advice. To handle the situation, I’m not going to support one or the other. They are completely equal to me.”
“I thought that it's not going to be so difficult, but mentally it was difficult,” Gulbis said of the experience. “We were both really nervous throughout the match, I think.”
Asked if he could take any positive experience away from the five-set loss Gulbis said: “Positive is that Dominic is in the third round. He has an okay draw, so I wish him the best. For me? What is positive for me? I lost. I'm going home. Nothing positive for me.”