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Chris Chase

Federer stunned in Rome by 40th-ranked Ernests Gulbis

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And on the seventh match point, Ernests Gulbis rested.

The 40th-ranked 21-year-old fought off six unforced errors on match points before securing a stunning 2-6, 6-1, 7-5 victory over world No. 1 Roger Federer in Tuesday's second round of the Rome Masters. The loss drops Federer to 3-3 since winning the Australian Open and prevents what could have been an epic semifinal in Rome between Federer and Rafa Nadal.

Gulbis almost blew it, though. The shaggy-haired Latvian lost two games in which he held match point, one on Federer's serve and in his next service game as well. Each of the six blown opportunities were boderline chokes.

A second serve return on his first match point sailed long. He then missed a wide-open forehand and eventually saw Federer take the game to get back to 4-5 in the third. Gulbis was so out of sorts he started walking to the side for a changeover after blowing the game, even though it wasn't yet time for one.

On the next service game, Gulbis double faulted twice on match point and twice hit easy forehands long. When Federer broke to get back to 5-5 and took a 30-0 lead on his serve, it looked as if Gulbis' best chances had slipped away.

But then Federer made some errors of his own, sailing a backhand wide and netting two easy shots. Gulbis broke and then won his game at love to score the biggest win of his career and send Federer home in his first clay court match of the season.

It's still early in the season, but this is already a candidate for upset of the year. Except for those tentative points at the end of the match, Gulbis was aggressive and made some thrilling shots. As for Federer, his remarks about not being the favorite at the French Open are looking more prophetic by the day.

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