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.
‘Another Level’ – Nick Kyrgios Praises Rising Star Jannik Sinner
This week the world No.11 is bidding to win his third consecutive indoor tournament.
Jannik Sinner’s recent dominance when it comes to playing tennis indoors hasn’t gone unnoticed with one of his peers praising him on social media.
The 20-year-old defeated Reilly Opelka in the second round of the Vienna Open on Wednesday in what is his fifth consecutive win on the Tour. Impressively Sinner has now won 18 straight sets on indoor hardcourts. Last Sunday he claimed his fifth Tour title at the European Open to become the youngest ATP player to win that many ATP trophies since Novak Djokovic back in 2007.
Sinner’s achievements were highlighted on social media by journalist Ben Rothenberg who posted a tweet of the 18 sets he has won. That caught the attention of former top 20 player and two-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Nick Kyrgios who paid his own tribute to the Italian.
“He is another level. That’s for sure, played him in Washington doubles. Never played someone who hit the ball as hard,” he wrote.
The two are yet to play against each other in singles competition. In Washington Kyrgios and Frances Tiafoe lost 4-6, 4-6, to Sinner and his partner Sebastian Korda.
Sinner’s latest win in Vienna has boosted his chances of qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin next month. He has risen back up the standings to 10th in the race after overtaking Indian Wells champion Cameron Norrie. Norrie will play his second round match on Thursday.
“I think I had not so many chances and I used them. I think that was the key today,” Sinner said of his latest win against Opelka. “I served well. My service holds were always quite fast and good. I felt well on the baseline, so I knew when I went in a rally that somehow I was going to win the point. But it’s never easy playing against him. You never have rhythm.”
Awaiting Sinner in the next round will be Austria’s Denis Novak who is currently ranked 116th in the world and is yet to beat a top 10 player in his career.
Denis Shapovalov Battles Back To Reach The Quarterfinals In St Petersburg
The Canadian got off to a slow start in his first match but was able to recover nicely for a big three-set win.
Second seed Denis Shapovalov needed to go the distance at the St Petersburg Open to beat his Spanish opponent Pablo Andujar 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 in one hour and 49 minutes.
The Toronto native didn’t have the best start to the match but was able to recover and pull off a comeback to take the win. Serving a total of 11 aces to reach the quarterfinals.
” It’s very tough to play Pablo (Andujar) first round of a tournament, he’s a great player and it was a tough start to the match,” said Shapovalov. “I didn’t feel so great but I just told myself to keep going because obviously there is still a lot of tennis to be played and I wanted to turn it around in the second set and I did a really good job.”
It was the Spaniard who got off to a better start, earning a breakpoint in the first game of the match before grabbing the early break and he was able to consolidate it. At 2-0, Andujar had two chances to go up a double break but the Canadian saved both and it stayed on serve until 4-2 when the world number 92 was able to earn another breakpoint. This time converted for the double break lead and served out the first set.
The second set stayed on serve until 2-1 when Shapovalov broke to love and that one break of serve was enough for him to serve it out and send the match into a decider.
The Canadian continued pushing as his level improved. In the first game of the final set, he broke the Spaniard with a perfectly timed cross-court winner to take an early 1-0 lead. After consolidating the break he was hungry for more and broke Andujar’s serve once again to go up a double break. Shapovalov closed the match out with a bagel set.
During his on-court interview, Shapovalov was asked how happy he was back to be in St Peterburg and he mentioned the amazing memories he had playing in the event last year.
” It always feels great to be back and I remember last year playing Andrey (Rublev) in the semifinals. I was one set up and I lost this match but I am happy to be here due to the fact I always get great support from the fans here”. He said.
Shapovalov will face Jan-Lennard Struff in the quarterfinals after the German upset seventh seed Alexander Bublik in straight sets (6-4, 6-3).
Former World No.8 And Grand Slam Champion Jurgen Melzer Retires
Melzer ends a career which has seen him crack the world’s top 10 in both singles and doubles.
After more than two decades on the Tour, Jurgen Melzer has played his final match after bowing out of the Vienna Open on Wednesday.
The 40-year-old confirmed earlier this year that he would end his career at his home tournament. Teaming up with Alexander Zverev in the doubles, the duo lost in straight sets to third seeds Filip Polášek and John Peers. Melzer is a two-time champion in Vienna after winning back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. He later went on to win the doubles title in 2014.
“I was a bit afraid that not so many would come after all. Thank you very much, it was a huge honour for me to leave here,” Melzer said during his on-court interview.
“He (Zverev) didn’t hesitate five seconds to play here with me, that is not a matter of course when you’re at number four and you’re close to the Masters. Unfortunately, it was a short undertaking, but thank you.” He added.
Melzer first rose to prominence as a junior when he became the first Austrian to win the Wimbledon boys’ title back in 1999. He would go on to play in a total of 53 Grand Slam main draws during his professional career with his best run being to the semi-finals of the 2010 French Open. On the ATP Tour he claimed five titles with his most prestigious being at an ATP 500 event in Memphis during the 2012 season.
Against top 10 opposition, Melzer has beaten every member of the Big Three at least once. The most notable being against Novak Djokovic where he battled back from two sets down to stun the Serbian at the 2010 French Open. Overall, he recorded 13 wins over top 10 players during his career.
“My career started here (in Vienna) on an international level almost 22 years ago, in 1999 here in the town hall, where for the first time I was allowed to dream of really going the way as a professional tennis player. 22 years later and I would have signed everything, what I have achieved. It was an unbelievable journey that ends today. That I couldn’t have dreamed of.”
It wasn’t just in the singles where Melzer enjoyed success on the Tour. As a double player he achieved a ranking high of sixth and won two men’s Grand Slam titles with Philipp Petzschner, as well claiming the 2011 Wimbledon mixed doubles trophy with his ex-wife Iveta Benešová. More recently, Melzer reached the final of the 2020 ATP Finals alongside Édouard Roger-Vasselin. That was to be the last Tour final of his career.
“Of course you still hope to be at the top, but at some point you will be realistic enough to be able to assess that it will not be enough. It was an unbelievable journey that was a lot of fun. It is over, but it is also good that way.” He concluded.
Whilst his time on the Tour has come to an end, Melzer will remain involved in tennis. He is currently working as the Sports director of the Austrian Tennis Federation (OTV). A role he has held since January.
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