Ernests Gulbis: “What took me so long? I think I was eating wrong. I had the wrong diet” - UBITENNIS
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Ernests Gulbis: “What took me so long? I think I was eating wrong. I had the wrong diet”

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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.

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Daniil Medvedev Targets French Open Breakthrough After Rome Disappointment

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Daniil Medvedev believes there will be more title contenders at the French Open than previous editions with the Russian hoping to be one of them. 

The world No.4 heads into the Grand Slam after what has been a mixed clay swing. Medvedev suffered a third round defeat in Monte Carlo before bouncing back in Madrid where he reached the quarter-finals before retiring from his match with a minor injury. Meanwhile, at this week’s Italian Open, his title defence came to an end in the fourth round on Tuesday when he fell 6-1, 6-4, to Tommy Paul. 

“Mentally I had to be much better,” Medvedev said of his latest performance.
“I started to calm myself down and focus on the match only at the end of the match, and it was too late. I had to do better. I was expecting myself to play better.’
“It’s disappointing, but that’s how sport is. You lose and you go for the next tournament, which is a pretty important one.” He added. 

28-year-old Medvedev recently stated that he is seeing improvements in his game when it comes to playing on the clay. A surface which he has struggled on during stages of his career. Out of the 38 ATP Finals he has contested, only two of those were on the clay. Barcelona in 2019 when he finished runner-up and Rome last year which he won. 

As for the French Open, he has lost in the first round on five out of seven appearances. But did reach the quarter-finals in 2021 and the last 16 the following year. So could 2024 be his year?

“Now it’s maybe a little bit more open than it was ever before,” he said of this year’s event. 
“Good for me, too, because usually in Roland Garros I don’t play that well. The more open it is, the better it is for me.”

All of the top three players on the men’s tour are currently experiencing problems. Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Italian Open and recently underwent a medical assessment after getting hit in the head by a bottle in a freak accident. Jannik Sinner is reportedly on the verge of withdrawing from the French Open due to a hip issue and Carlos Alcaraz has been hindered by a forearm injury in recent weeks. 

“I’m feeling much better on clay,” Medvedev commented. “What is tough for me on clay sometimes is getting used to conditions. Every court – in every tournament in the world – is a bit different.
“On hard courts it’s the same: every court is different. On hard courts I have this ability to kind of quite fast get used to it. On clay, I need more time.”

Medvedev aims to become only the second Russian man in history to win the French Open after Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1996. The tournament will begin a week on Sunday. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Says Expanded Masters Events ‘Playing A Massive Role’ In Player Injuries

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas has slammed the decision to extend the length of Masters 1000 tournaments to two weeks by warning that more injuries could occur in the future as a result. 

This week’s Rome Masters is taking place without two out of the world’s top three players. Jannik Sinner pulled out of his home event due to a hip injury and Carlos Alcaraz has been troubled by a forearm issue in recent weeks. Other players missing from the draw include Tomas Machac (Illness), Ugo Humbert (Left Knee) and Stan Wawrinka (Right Wrist). 

The tournament is taking place immediately after the Madrid Open which is also a Masters event that has been expanded to a two-week format in recent years. Supporters of the move argue that a bigger draw provides lower-ranked players with more opportunities to play in these events whilst others will have a day off between matches. 

However, world No.8 Tsitsipas isn’t completely happy with the schedule which he openly criticised on Monday following his 6-2, 7-6(1), win over Cameron Norrie. The Greek has won 12 out of 14 matches played on clay so far this season. 

“It’s a type of thing that hurt the sport a little bit, to have these types of things happen to the highest of the players,” Tsitsipas commented on his rival’s injuries.
“Without them, the show is not kind of the same. You have obviously the guys behind them (in the rankings). These kinds of tournaments deserve names like this to be playing and have the opportunity to play in front of these big stadiums and crowds.
“I’ve spoken about the fact that the schedule has a big toll on our bodies. It starts from the mental side, and it follows to the physical side. The extension of the days in the Masters 1000s I think plays a massive role and contributes a lot to the fact that these players are getting injured.”

The ATP’s extended format is set to be applied to seven out of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments from 2025. The only two yet to make or plan for such changes are Monte Carlo and Paris. However, Tsitsipas has called for changes to be made to the schedule.

“It was perhaps already a lot the way it was before with the seven-day events. Adding more days to that, well, you got to be some type of superhero to be consistent back-to-back 10 days in each event getting to the very end of it.” He commented.
“It’s not a very easy thing to do. Some people need to try it first to get an understanding and how it is to pull that off. Then they should make decisions based on that.
“I think this is not going to be the first time we see these types of things (player injuries). If these types of things continue with the same schedule not being adjusted or customized to the needs of the players, we might see more of these things occur in the future.”

It is not the first time a player has raised concerns about the extended format. Alexander Zverev previously said that the schedule is a disadvantage for the top players. Meanwhile, on the women’s Tour Caroline Garcia has criticised the move to expand WTA 1000 tournaments whilst Maria Sakkari said achieving the Madrid-Rome double has become harder to do

On the other hand, Daniil Medvedev has spoken in favour of the new format and describes injuries on the Tour as ‘part of the sport.’ The former US Open believes the issue is related to the quick surface changes players face and not the duration of tournaments. 

Tsitsipas will play Alex de Minaur in the fourth round of the Italian Open on Tuesday. 

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Novak Djokovic To Undergo Medical Check After Rome Thrashing, Bottle Incident

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Novak Djokovic – ATP Roma 2024 (foto: Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis)

Novak Djokovic has indicated that he will speak to doctors following his lacklustre performance at the Italian Open where he crashed out in straight sets. 

The five-time champion was far from his best against Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo as he struggled to generate any rhythm in his tennis or a single break point opportunity. Djokovic’s below-par performance caught many off guard, including the tennis player himself who admitted afterwards that he was ‘completely off’ his game. 

Trying to find the reason behind his latest performance, the world No.1 isn’t ruling out the possibility that it might be linked to an incident that took place at the tournament two days ago. Following his win over France’s Corentin Moutet, Djokovic suffered a blow to his head after a fan accidentally dropped a metal bottle from the stands. Immediately afterwards, he experienced nausea, dizziness and bleeding for up to an hour but was checked by medical officials.

“I don’t know, to be honest. I have to check that.” Djokovic replied when asked if the incident affected his form on Sunday.
“Training was different. I was going for kind of easy training yesterday. I didn’t feel anything, but I also didn’t feel the same.
“Today under high stress, it was quite bad – not in terms of pain, but in terms of this balance. Just no coordination. Completely different player from what it was two nights ago.
“It could be. I don’t know. I have to do medical checkups and see what’s going on. “

The tennis star said he managed to sleep fine after his head blow but did experience headaches. He looked to be in good spirits the day after it happened and even turned up to practice in Rome wearing a safety helmet.

Djokovic’s concerns come two weeks before the start of the French Open where he is seeking a record 25th Major title. He will undoubtedly be one of the contenders for glory but admits there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the coming days. 

“Everything needs to be better in order for me to have at least a chance to win it,” he said.
“The way I felt on the court today was just completely like a different player entered into my shoes. Just no rhythm, no tempo, and no balance whatsoever on any shot.
“It’s a bit concerning.”

The French Open will begin on Sunday 26th May. 

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