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US OPEN SCENE: Philosopher Gulbis' rule for living: don't think, just hit

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - For Ernests Gulbis, the unexamined life really is worth living.

In a wide-ranging news conference after his straight-set, first-round U.S. Open victory over Kenny De Schepper on Wednesday, the free-spirited Latvian was asked to expound upon his theory of life for tennis players: Don't think, just hit.

"In the life on road, life on tour, the less you think, it's easier," Gulbis said. "When you start to question yourself: Why am I doing this? What are my true goals in life? What is my true motivation? Then you start to question: Why AM I doing this? ... Why? For what?"

The 11th-seeded Gulbis says he followed those rules at this year's French Open and completed a run to the semifinals, knocking out Roger Federer along the way.

"When I was in Paris, the whole two weeks I didn't read nothing, I didn't watch nothing. I was just simply routine," he said. "I was eating the same place. I was going to sleep. Not really putting a lot of information in my head. Just trying to relax. "

— By James Martinez, http://twitter.com/jfmartinez

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TO HAIR IS HUMAN: Blame it on the hair.

Caroline Wozniacki got her blond braid caught in her racket while hitting a forehand in her second-round U.S. Open match Wednesday against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, and she gamely tried to hit a backhand on the next shot, with her hair still entangled.

"I almost took my head off," Wozniacki told reporters later. "It was really tangled up good, so I didn't have a chance."

Wozniacki lost the point, but she didn't lose her sense of humour. Once she got her hair and her racket separated, she had no choice but to laugh at herself.

The 24-year-old Dane, seeded 10th, went on to win 6-3, 6-4, and she later tweeted a clip of the entanglement to her 675,000 followers. Wozniacki explained that such snags used to happen all the time before she started braiding her hair, but this was the first post-braid incident.

"It's one of those things," she said. "Us women, we keep it interesting."

— By James Martinez, http://twitter.com/jfmartinez

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CAN'T FINISH: As Croatia's Ivan Dodig knows all too well after his 2014 Grand Slam season, you can't win if you can't finish.

At the Australian Open in January, he stopped playing in the fourth set of his second-round match, citing cramps.

At the French Open in May — shortly after he said he injured his ribs at a tournament in Rome — Dodig lasted all of four games before quitting in the first round.

And at the U.S. Open on Wednesday, at 1-all in the fifth set against 19th-seeded Feliciano Lopez, the 53rd-ranked Dodig stopped yet again, again officially citing cramps.

"Suddenly, in one moment, I was running for one ball and I (felt) a bit tight on the right hip. And after a couple of games, I started feeling like more cramps in the right leg," Dodig said.

"Basically, I decided (it would be) best if I stop the match and not risk (being healthy) for the next tournaments," he added.

Hey, at least he showed up in Melbourne, Paris and New York. At the year's other Grand Slam tournament, Wimbledon in June, Dodig withdrew from the field before play began.

— By Howard Fendrich, http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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