TENNIS 2014 ROLAND GARROS – 3rd of June. E. Gulbis d. T. Berdych 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. An interview with Ernests Gulbis
Q. A few years ago tennis experts said that you are a great talent.
ERNESTS GULBIS: Which tennis experts?
Q. A few of them.
ERNESTS GULBIS: Okay.
Q. Now you showed it. What took you so long?
ERNESTS GULBIS: (Laughter.) I answer this question many times. What took me so long? I think I was eating wrong. I had the wrong diet.
Everybody was talking about this gluten free diet. My diet is full on gluten. I like a lot of ketchup, a lot of unhealthy stuff so there is a balance which I found in the last couple of years (smiling).
Q. You said yesterday that you thought you had one of the best backhands on the tour. Out of the guys that are left in the tournament now Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, Monfils do you feel like you have the best backhand out of the six guys that are left in the tournament?
ERNESTS GULBIS: Why my opinion should have changed from day to day? If I said that I have the best one, one of the best throughout all the tour, doesn’t matter who’s left in the tournament. My backhand didn’t change overnight.
Q. It’s an ego thing? You need to show you can actually do this time?
ERNESTS GULBIS: Okay, if you want to go that way, then I will explain a little bit.
For me, I found throughout these years what is important for me to be truly happy. For me to be truly happy I said it many times, also in the press conference; I don’t know if you were here yesterday or the day before that my happiness comes only from doing well my job.
Then I can really live my life to the maximum. You know, I can enjoy the stuff much more.
So for me 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 in the end of the day.
Q. On a boring tennis subject, you served exceptionally well today. Are you serving as well consistently, do you think, as you’ve ever done in your career?
ERNESTS GULBIS: Yes. Well, I remember the match I played against Berdych. It was in Rotterdam, and I lost the match because he was returning really well.
On a fast surface he was standing close to the line, a little bit similar like Roger is returning close to the line, not going far back.
On clay it’s a little bit tougher because you know you have a little bit more bad bounces and the ball is a little bit higher, so I think it’s a little bit easier if you step back.
So for clay my serve was working better against Berdych than on fast surface. I think I served the best against Radek Stepanek. Against Roger the level was a little bit down. Now today it was really high.
Today everything was good. I felt physically so good. I felt that I can run forever. I felt that he cannot make winner, you know? That’s how I felt on court. I felt that I covered it really well.
If I feel so confident, you know, from the baseline, then everything just comes together.
Q. Last February your mom told you you should probably quit tennis.
ERNESTS GULBIS: Now she tells me if I win the tournament I shouldn’t quit (Laughter.)
Q. I’m wondering why tennis? You could do many different things with your life. You have all these off court pursuits. You’re a smart guy. Why grind away on this tour?
ERNESTS GULBIS: Thank you.
Q. Yeah, no worries.
ERNESTS GULBIS: Why?
Q. Yeah, why.
ERNESTS GULBIS: You know, sometimes we don’t choose our profession; the profession chooses us.
I was five years old when parents brought me to tennis. If they would bring me to football or basketball, that wasn’t my choice. I was just an active kid. I liked every kind of sport.
Tennis basically chose me because my father had a friend who was a tennis coach. That’s why I started, you know. I’m pretty sure that I would be good with anything with a ball.
I think I would be pretty good basketball player, pretty good football player, you know, because I like ball. I have a good feeling for it, you know. Just happened to be tennis.
For a while, you know, I was a little bit pissed off about it because I wish I could play on a team, you know, because in my understanding, it’s much easier. In my understanding, tennis is one of the toughest sports. You cannot compare to nothing. You’re all alone there.
If you have a bad day, that’s it. You’re done. If you have bad day in football, you give a pass. You score a goal. You won.
It’s tough, but it has its bonuses. I think if you think the right thoughts and understand what you’re doing, then it builds up your character much more than it would in any other sport.
It’s up and down. Now I’m really happy that it is tennis. I need to prove to myself that I can be the best that I can be in tennis, and then I’m going to have a clear and easy mind when I’m 35 years old sitting on a beach with a… (demonstrating drinking.) (Laughter.)
Q. You’re now talking about tennis as a job, and of course you’re a professional. That doesn’t surprise. When did you start thinking that this was a job and not a game since you were kid? Later? Recently? And also, one more question about you and Djokovic. When you were playing when you were 14 years old. Who was winning? Who was more hungry if he had no diet at that point? What do you remember of those days when you were playing Djokovic?
ERNESTS GULBIS: Yeah, about Djokovic, you know, it wasn’t that we spent too much time together. I came to Niki Pilic’s academy at one point and he was before me there, and then I stick to that place, you know, and he was just coming and going.
Basically we were there all around all during this four, five years when I was practicing there, maybe one month together, you know. So maybe even less.
We had to practice. We had couple of sets. I couldn’t really beat him. But I could beat him on carpet. There was really fast carpet indoors, so I could beat him there.
He was I told this. He was really professional already at that time. I remember we had a friend. You know, there was one Croatian guy who was all about the girls at that age already. He was dressing up. He was looking good, putting perfume, sunglasses, going to talk to the girls.
I see Novak, he’s going to stretch, you know. And Novak told me that, Yeah, you can have anybody. Can have all the girls in the world, you know. But to be really successful in tennis, you need to something like that he said to me. I remember it still.
That’s a kid who is 15 years old. I didn’t forget. (Laughter.)
About the job, when did I understand it? I still think it’s not a job. I think it’s half hobby. It’s enjoyable job, very enjoyable job.
Q. The ATP guy says that you’re named after writer Ernest Hemingway. He wrote about sports a bit. Did you ever read his work, take something from it?
ERNESTS GULBIS: Unfortunately not. Unfortunately I trust only two people with books, who is recommending me books. That’s my father and my mother. One book, Gunther recommended me, but that’s a different kind of book.
My mother is pushing me to read something from Hemingway. My father is more giving me some of the more newer stuff, modern stuff. You know, he’s not too much he’s a walking bibliothèque. We have a lot of books in our country house, and I read some of the Dostoyevsky, you know. But in Russia, for example, we have really good TV, which is basically you watch it and you know exactly what’s in the book, you know.
So he prefers that I read other stuff than what I can watch. And otherwise, I do it through TV, you know.
With Hemingway, it’s a longer conversation why I didn’t read it yet. Maybe afterwards.
Q. What about the S? If you are named after Ernest, why is your name Ernests?
ERNESTS GULBIS: In Latvia, all the men words finish with S and woman words are with A or E. That’s just grammatics.
Alexander Zverev Deserves More Respect According To Boris Becker
According to Boris Becker, Alexander Zverev deserves more respect from tennis journalists.
Boris Becker has claimed that Alexander Zverev deserves more respect despite Zverev failing to live up to his potential at Grand Slams.
Zverev has only reached one Grand Slam final in his career despite being a regular inside the world’s top ten as well as performing at regular ATP events.
This season Zverev played a limited schedule after recovering from an ankle injury but still managed to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals.
However most critics have been loud when judging Zverev’s career as it was looking likely that he would be a regular Grand Slam champion.
The German has failed to live up to expectations but former Grand Slam champion Boris Becker believes Zverev deserves more respect.
Speaking to Eurosport Becker also said that Zverev’s father being the coach is a more than successful approach when it comes to the former US Open finalist’s career, “In my opinion, he doesn’t get enough respect from the tennis experts internationally,” Becker explained.
“They’re all talking about the young three or four, but don’t give Zverev, Medvedev or Rublev enough respect. He’s playing with his fist in his pocket a little bit, wants everyone show that he is not a thing of the past, but that his best time is yet to come.
“Surely his father knows best what is good for his son, but if you look into the box at the competition, you can also see changes.”
Becker has followed Zverev for most of his career so knows that the best is yet to come from the German.
Alexander Zverev will look to prove himself next season when he starts his 2024 season when he represents Germany at the United Cup.
Juan Carlos Ferrero Analyses Key Areas For Carlos Alcaraz’s Development
Juan Carlos Ferrero has outlined the next steps in Carlos Alcaraz’s development.
Carlos Alcaraz’s coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero has analysed the key areas for the Spaniard’s development heading into the 2024 season.
The former world number one’s season has come to an end after a successful year which saw him win the Wimbledon title as well as winning two Masters 1000 titles.
Alcaraz capped off an incredible season by reaching the semi-finals at the Nitto ATP Finals, where he lost to Novak Djokovic.
However there is a long way for the Spaniard to go if he wants to consistently go toe-to-toe with Novak Djokovic.
Speaking to Marca Alcaraz’s coach Juan Carlos Ferrero spoke about the Spaniard’s development and said that Alcaraz is too emotional, “Be more regular in games, not open doors. Sometimes there are mistakes and it is something that we have to improve a lot,” Ferrero commented.
“Although it is true that he opens doors, he always competes well and at the highest level. He knows it, the other day he already said that Novak doesn’t give you one. He has to improve his decision making and he will achieve that with experience. Carlos is very emotional and that sometimes helps him and other times not so much.”
It’s clear Alcaraz’s high-quality is there but to consistently do it against Djokovic is another task altogether as the Spaniard looks to go from strength-to strength next season.
One area that is clearly a priority for Alcaraz is physical conditioning especially considering what happened against Djokovic at Roland Garros earlier in the season.
Ferrero said that will be a clear focus heading into 2024 but couldn’t guarantee that Alcaraz will play a tournament before the Australian Open, “Because of the year and the fatigue he has been in, what he needs is rest and disconnecting for 8-10 days with his friends,” Ferrero stated.
“From there, the thinking must go back to working really hard, strong and well to start very strongly in Australia. One can never be sure of that. Sometimes you play a tournament and it doesn’t go well, you left home too early. There are many ways of thinking.
“This year we haven’t played Australia and he finishes number two. That means there is no urgency to play a tournament early. Carlos is a player who enters competition quickly, you don’t usually see him without rhythm.
“Although it is true that he becomes more dangerous from the round of 16, from the quarter-finals. I am confident that the two exhibition matches and the training sessions will help us play a good tournament.”
Alcaraz will be looking to play the Australian Open which starts on the 15th of January after the Spaniard missed last year’s tournament due to a leg injury.
Australian Open Chief Confident Nadal Will Play But Kyrgios’ Participation Uncertain
The tournament director of the Australian Open says he is ‘certain’ that Rafael Nadal will play at the Grand Slam even though the Spaniard has yet to outline his comeback plans.
Craig Tiley told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday he hopes to receive some clarity over Nadal’s intentions in the next couple of weeks but is confident he will play. However, the tennis official had previously claimed in October that the former world No.1 had already committed to play in the event before his team denied that statement.
Nadal, who has won 22 Grand Slam titles, hasn’t played a Tour match since his second round defeat at the Australian Open in January due to a hip injury. He was originally expecting to take an eight-week break but the recovery didn’t go to plan and he ended up having surgery. In May he confirmed that he will take an extended break from the sport to heal his body and admitted that retirement next year is a possibility.
“Rafa has been training, I follow him closely, probably every day because he’s a massive drawcard for us,” the Reuters News Agency quoted Tiley as saying.
“He wants to play, he’s obviously planning on playing. It all depends on how he pulls up.
“Hopefully in the next week or the next two weeks, we get some specific confirmation of that. I’m certain Rafa will be here because he’s not going to want to miss the opportunity to repeat what he did a couple of years ago.”
Earlier this month Nadal confirmed that he intends to return to the Tour but admits that he will continue to experience a degree of pain. Although he has yet to give any information about which tournament he will begin his comeback at. The 2024 season begins during the first week of January.
“I’m well, training, and happy. I’m at a good stage of my life,” atptour.com quoted Nadal as telling reporters in Barcelona.
“Until now I didn’t know if I would play tennis again someday, and now I genuinely believe I will. I’m still not ready to say when, but I’m able to train increasingly longer, and the progress is good.’
Will Kyrgios play?
Another player Tiley is eager to welcome back is home player and former Wimbledon Finalist Nick Kyrgios who has only played one Tour-level match this season due to injury. He underwent knee surgery in January and then tore a ligament in his wrist during the summer. As a result, the Australian currently doesn’t have an ATP ranking due to his inactivity.
“We have spoken to Nick, and he obviously wants to do the best he possibly can to give him the best chance to play in January,” Tiley said of Kyrgios.
“Whether he’s playing, whether he’s doing something else, Nick will be here in January and to get him to play will be great. But we’ve got to take it as it comes and he’s got to make sure he takes care of his health …”
Kyrgios recently worked as an analyst for the Tennis Channel during this year’s ATP Finals in Turin and gave a brief update on his ongoing recovery during a segment.
“After last year, I had such a great year, and I’m so hungry to get back out there,” the 2022 Wimbledon finalist commented.
“So I’m doing everything I can to get back out there. Obviously, you know how injuries are every day, just doing the rehab, doing the gym work.”
The Australian Open will begin on Sunday 14th January. Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka are the defending champions.
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