The last eight players to defeat Roger Federer at a Grand Slam tournament lost in their next match. Ernests Gulbis broke the spell on Tuesday at Roland Garros.
Two days after knocking out the World No. 4, the Latvian raced past World No. 6 Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final. He extended his winning streak to nine matches and his season mark on French soil to 13-0.
“It’s very special,” Gulbis said in an on-court interview. “Today was the best match of the tournament. I did everything well.
“I felt physically so good,” he elaborated in his press conference. “I felt that I can run forever. I felt that he cannot make winners. That's how I felt on court. I felt that I covered it really well. If I feel so confident from the baseline, then everything just comes together.”
The No. 18 seed broke Berdych's first service game in all three sets of the two-hour match. He capitalised on five of his eight break point chances, hit 31 winners and won 81 per cent of his first serve points to 69 per cent for Berdych.
"It was not my best day," said the Czech, who was looking to reach the Roland Garros semi-finals for a second time. "It was not the day that I would stay with him and push him into the tough situations. He handled it quite well."
Gulbis recorded back-to-back Top 10 victories at the same tournament for the second time. He first accomplished the feat in February, when he upset Frenchmen Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to win the Marseille title.
He collected his second trophy of the season just ahead of Roland Garros, triumphing in Nice to improve to a 6-0 mark in tour-level finals.
The 25 year old will look to continue his winning run when he next faces World No. 2 Novak Djokovic for the first time since 2011. He trails Djokovic 1-4 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
"I think just for me it's 0-0 with him in matches," said Gulbis. "The way I'm playing now, I never played like this. I never felt like this. What was in the past I don't even consider. I beat him once, also in a bad match. He was changing racquet, and he was playing really bad."
Gulbis has not lost to a seeded player at a Grand Slam tournament since the 2010 Australian Open (l. to Monaco), compiling a 5-0 mark, and has also recorded five wins over Top 10 opponents this season.
Currently at a career-high No. 17 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, Gulbis will break into the Top 10 unless he loses in the semi-finals and Gael Monfils wins the Roland Garros title. Monfils will play Andy Murray in the quarter-finals Wednesday on Court Philippe Chatrier.
"My happiness comes only from doing my job well," said Gulbis on his success this season. "Then I can really live my life to the maximum. I can enjoy the stuff much more.
"It's really important for my happiness just to be successful on the tennis court. Forget about the money. Forget about fame. It's just about my inner comfort. That's it. For me, that's all that matters at the end of the day."