Tennis Prose



Biofile with Ernests Gulbis

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: Winner of one ATP singles title – 2010 Delray Beach. Coached by Hernan Gumy since September 2009. Currently ranked ATP #28.

Ht: 6-3 Wt: 169

DOB: August 30, 1988 In: Riga, Latvia

First Tennis Memory: “I went with my grandmother. I was living a lot with my grandmother when I was a kid, because my father and mother were working. And my grandmother had tennis courts like a half an hour walking distance from her apartment. It was like a Soviet Union-type neighborhood – big buildings with eight, nine stories. And we went there. I practiced with my grandmother. She couldn’t play tennis but this was the first time when I took a racquet in my hand. So we went there. And immediately I could hit the ball over the net. Some coaches saw me and they said, Oh, this guy doesn’t need to clean the courts – he’s too good. So this is my first memory when I took a racquet (age 4).”

Tennis Inspirations/Heroes: “I don’t have. I wasn’t watching tennis a lot. I was real active young kid. I was playing against a wall. I was a fan of tennis but not watching it. I like to play. No matter how much I went to the courts, every time happy. But I didn’t have interest of watching other people.”

Hobbies/Leisure Activities: “I like to think [smiles]. No, I mean, just to think, read books, watch movies, to go out with my friends. Every normal thing for the young guy my age. Nothing special. Tennis is a profession, it’s like a job. The other things are like any other normal person would do. It’s just that I cannot hang out with my friends till 5 in the morning every day. But for the rest of the time it’s like normal things.”

Last Book Read: “Was a Russian writer. Macho Don’t Cry. It’s about the 90’s in Russia, basically it’s about a lot of drinking, a lot of going out and stuff like that. But in an interesting way, not like in a stupid kind of way. It’s really interesting.”

Favorite Movies: “I have a lot. Many. Actually, one of my favorites is David Lynch movie Mulholland Drive. I watched it maybe eight, ten times. I like David Lynch as a director. I saw some of his movies. Then I saw some Russian movies. I really liked – there’s a book in Russia, it’s like a Bible to Russians – it’s called Master & Margerita. And they made a TV series about that. It’s more than 10 series long. Like a TV thing, not a movie. That’s what I like. And many others. Those two came up first.”

Musical Tastes: “I like a lot listen to Russian music. But not Russian pop. I listen to Russian rock, Russian blues. I really like blues. I like the live instruments. I don’t like the technical stuff, when people push a button and the sound comes and everybody pumps up. I like good, interesting music where you listen to the words and there’s meaning to the song.”

Favorite Artists/Painters: “Favorite – no. I like some of the Latvian painters which are not really popular in the world. I mean, of course, if you go to the museum and watch the masterpieces of the top guys, you enjoy it a lot. I like to go to the museums and watch the operas but I don’t have a favorite.”

Greatest Sports Moment: “I think when I win in Delray Beach, my first tournament win. And when I made quarters in Paris, Roland Garros (2008). It’s my best result in a Slam.”

Most Painful Moment: “There’s a lot. Too much. I lost so many first and second round to guys who I shouldn’t lose when I didn’t feel good, when I play bad. Too many.”

Favorite Tournaments: “Of course, I like all the Grand Slams. All the Masters, because, you know, they’re a different feeling. I like tournaments which are in a nice city where there’s a lot to do, like Paris, New York, I like St. Petersburg, Moscow tournaments. Yeah, in nice cities. London.”

Funniest Players Encountered: “I don’t know, nowadays everybody is so professional. And they don’t – they’re not funny any more [smiles]. I don’t know. Yeah, that’s true. On court. No, on court, I don’t think somebody’s funny. I think everybody’s into winning. They don’t care about funny. But off court, I have really good relations with, really with everybody. But I’m talking more with Russian guys. Marat left tennis, he was a funny guy. I mean, really nice guy.”

Closest Tennis Friends: “I don’t know if you call it friends. Maybe you can call it your, I don’t know, partners. I don’t have a good name in English for it. Yeah, I have a close friendship with the Russian guys like Kunitsyn, Tursunov.”

Toughest Competitors Encountered: “All of them. Just some guys tanked against me when I was playing junior tournaments. Nobody’s tanking now, everybody’s tough.”

Embarrassing Tennis Memory: “Yes, sometimes I feel embarrassed with the way I play [smiles]. When I lose first round I feel really embarrassed. I don’t want to stay on court. So sometimes it’s like a fight between myself…I do want to be on court – I don’t want to be on court. I want to win – I want to lose. I want to go home – I want to do that. So it’s like all the time something in your brain. I’m trying to keep my brain stable.”

Funny Tennis Memory: “Never, no. It’s too serious a sport to laugh [smiles].”

Favorite Players To Watch: “I like to watch Federer. Because he’s playing just nice tennis.”

People Qualities Most Admired: “Honest. You’d rather say something to a person’s face then behind their back.”

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  • Amanda · August 10, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Really enjoyed reading his answers. Ernests is the best intervirwee on tour I’m my opinion. 😉

  • Dan Markowitz · August 11, 2010 at 3:33 am

    Ernests is not the best interview on tour. He might say some things that rile people or surprise them, but for the most part, he’s pretty tame and not a very eager interview. He can be charming and rueful, but he’s an enigma for the most part.



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