Ernests Gulbis: Top Four are Boring; Lower-Ranked Players are Treated like Crap

Ernests Gulbis

(May 29, 2013) In an interview with L’Equipe, the ever-vocal Ernests Gulbis took to the presses once again, this time calling out the ATP “Big Four” consisting of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

“I respect Roger, Rafa, Novak and Murray, but for me, all four player are boring,” Gulbis stated. “Their interviews are boring. Honestly, they are boring.”

According to Gulbis, when it comes down to it,  “Federer set this trend,” which gives the spectators a “polite” game and not “war, blood and emotions” as in boxing, he says. He believes that “people want to see broken rackets and hear the on-court bursts. ”

Basically, Gulbis wants players to be more like, well, him.

I can’t really argue with the last point about the game, but boring? I wouldn’t necessarily call Djokovic boring. He has had his fair share of code violations for swearing in Serbian on court and smashing more racquets than I can count. Murray too.

But the Gulbis fun doesn’t end there – not even close. Never one to shy away from voicing his talents on and off the court, he continues with two more captivating quotes from his L’Equipe interview:

1. “I do not want to hear in an interview a guy – who I will not name, but who I know well, that he thinks all his opponents are assholes – putting on an act” in his pressers.

Without naming the player, Gulbis is calling someone out — and I bet they know exactly who they are even if they are not reading his interviews. In truth, it piques my curiosity, and now I, strangely, want to know who it is, too. But will we ever find out or will the truth die on Gulbis’ lips?

The fact that he forces us to pose questions like this is precisely what makes the Latvian so intriguing and frustrating. Even if you don’t want to listen, he makes you listen. Whether it’s on a tennis court or in a presser, his character is hard to ignore. It makes you wonder just how many players actually pay attention to what he says, given how consistently he dishes it out. It seems like quite a few, in fact, including Feliciano Lopez who says that “Gulbis is a nice guy but always says things that can create some interest.” Clearly, fans and media are not the only ones being baited.

2.  “The system is much too bureaucratic. The top guys need to talk so things can change, but they’re pretty happy that (lower-ranked) players are treated like shit and do not have enough money to pay for good coaches.”

Do the selection of words coming out of the Latvian’s mouth even surprise anymore? In a way, yes. His constant stream of opinion is refreshing, but there are many who would rather tennis be without Gulbis. Both sides have enough footage to use as support.

He not only calls the “top guys” boring, but also insists that despite all their talks for higher compensation at tournaments, equality and change in the men’s game, it essentially doesn’t matter to them because they are above it. And how bold of Gulbis to use the word “happy” when describing how the top guys must feel when looking at their counterparts being treated badly by the system. That’s either stupid or takes guts to stand up against if true.

However, given Gulbis’ trajectory up the rankings, he may soon find himself in one of those top positions as well. What then? Will what he says in defense of lower-ranked players then be also a sham when he’s holding the mic and talking of change, or will he have enough influence to actually contribute to making these changes?

In an interview with Sport 360, Gulbis commented that despite all his off court opinions, he’s still a tennis player first.

“I can sometimes be somewhat disrespectful in some press conferences but when I play I really want to respect the opponent. I don’t want to take medical timeouts. I don’t like to screw up the other player’s rhythm. I don’t like this. I want that the better player wins without any screwing games.”

Gulbis was an intriguing figure when he first came onto the scene as a fresh 19-year-old defeating then world No. 8 Tommy Robredo in three easy sets at the US Open, and he is still an intriguing figure today.

True to his extravagant nature, Carole Bouchard of L’Equipe reveals that after his loss to Gael Monfils on Wednesday, the Latvian stuck around the press center eating a banana, and even requested a copy of his L’Equipe interview from the newspaper. This guy, indeed!