There’s something about acclaimed tennis auteur Lindsay Gibbs. People just open up to her. So it was with Latvian superstar Ernests Gulbis at the Winston-Salem Open yesterday. Tennis East Coast is proud to publish her inaugural post on this L’il Debbie of a blog. She’ll be in Winston-Salem the rest of the week, where she was born and raised. Here’s her grand slam in her first at bat on Tennis East Coast. How she’ll top this interview is anyone’s guess, but luckily for us, her Lasso of Truth never needs recharging.
2012 Winston-Salem Interview: Ernests Gulbis
Lindsay Gibbs, Special to TennisEastCoast.com
On Tuesday in Winston Salem, I got to check an item off of the tennis bucket list: I got to interview Ernests Gulbis. Erik Gudris (from adjustingthenet.com) and I got to sit down informally with the infamous Latvian, and soak in the bravado in person. I didn’t know what to expect, and even now a day later I’m not sure exactly what I got. He’s ranked 153 in the world right now, and therefore had to go through qualifying here in Winston-Salem, and fought through some matches and into the 3rd Round. He sat down with us after his 6-4, 7-6(2) win over Kevin Anderson, the #35 player in the world.
Ernests is a ball of contradictions, an obscure mix of sincerity and sarcasm, of reality and fantasy. He just has a different philosophy on, well, pretty much everything. He gave long and rambling answers to every question, and I think it’s best to just let Ernests speak for himself. (Though I have italicized a few things, for effect. I couldn’t help myself.)
Gulbis on why he got broken early in the 2nd set against Anderson:
Well, I served pretty well today. I got broken at the first time in the 2nd set mostly because of old balls and because I broke him and then he broke me straight back with the oldest balls possible. And then they changed them the next game. It’s really tough to serve with really old balls, especially here. He’s a guy also, when it’s 15-0, 30-0 he’s going to make good points, it’s going to be nice, with an ace, he’s confident, but when it’s 0-15, 0-30, everybody chokes. Even the best guys. Even Roger or Rafa chokes, it’s just normal. I broke him twice. He made twice double-fault. It’s tough to get to that point when you have break points against a big server like this. You know, couple games, the match is long. Even if it’s a five set match, it’s even longer. You shouldn’t worry, just relax, keep going.
Gulbis on his new coach:
I changed my coach a few months ago…before Paris. Gunter Bresnik. Austrian guy. He’s a good coach. It’s been good…I’m not playing my best tennis, I’ve just gotten some wins, and some confidence, and you know when I’m playing like this maybe I can win the tournament.
Gulbis on his upset over Berdych at Wimbledon:
I just prove to myself that when I’m good I can beat anybody. It’s clear for the rest of the players as well. They know when I play well I will give them trouble. Doesn’t matter who it is. When I play bad, I can lose to anyone.
Gulbis on the constant complaints by other players about the U.S. Open logistics, such as transportation:
A lot of players are princesses, you know. I like New York, you know. I don’t like a place like Cincinnati, there’s nothing to do. There is one Applebees, two hotels, you go out you get depressed. It’s a joke.
Gulbis on his favorite thing to do in New York:
I’m not going to tell you.
Gulbis on his reputation (hookers, private jets, etc.) that precedes him:
I’m trying to balance it. With age, you become more and more professional. So now I think I’ve calmed down, I’m doing the right stuff, but still I have my moments. I think you’re going to hear about them from time to time. Nothing has changed. But I’m trying to keep it more quiet.
Gulbis on his opponents:
I never care who I play against, I only care about my game. It’s simple. If I feel the ball well I really don’t care who I play. I can beat anybody, of course, I can lose also…. I really get pissed off if I am playing like shit, like I did at the beginning of the year, I didn’t get any wins. It’s a joke.
Gulbis on the players ranked ahead of him:
No disrespect to the other guys, but when I see what kind of players are already in top 50, I’m a bit shocked. I don’t know some of the names. Even I come here to this tournament, I see some of the guys, I ask my friend, ‘Who is this?’ He is ranked top 50!
Gulbis on consistency and Challengers:
Just consistency to get to the top 50. Yes, of course, these guys play only challengers, they win 5 or 6 challengers and they are ranked in the top 100. I play maybe 2 challengers in the last 4 or 5 years. I went to the big tournaments no matter what, I didn’t care about my ranking points, I just wanted and went to the big tournaments, so this is what I’m going to continue to be doing, doesn’t matter what’s my ranking. I’m not going to go to a challenger because of points. I can go to a challenger because of lack of matches or something like that, but never because of points.
And I know that any given week I can play well– reach quarter, I can reach semis– and the points in these tournaments are bigger. I just need two good weeks. I’m going to be top 50 in no time, if I play and continue working.
Gulbis on Qualifying:
Here (Winston-Salem) I came, so you have to win 9 matches to win the tournament. It’s more than a Grand Slam! And also, how they treat the players in qualifying it’s also a joke. First of all, you come to the center court they don’t have the net divide, they don’t have the hawk-eye system. They have the hawk-eye system, they just don’t want to use it for qualifying. Qualifying is not really a tournament sometimes. It’s ‘okay, let the guys play there’, whatever. I have this feeling, maybe I’m wrong, it’s very subjective always. I’m still going to try, I’m going to go to Asia, I’m going to play the quallies there, then I believe they’re not easy. Here was tough quallies, there was a lot of tough players.
Gulbis on the impact of his new coach on his mindset and game:
There is nothing to change about that, it’s my own decision what I’m doing in my life and outside the court, but on the court, my forehand.