The Importance of Being Ernests Gulbis

It’s rather fitting that Ernests Gulbis‘ has a namesake from the Oscar Wilde play, since the tagline reads:

“Everybody loves Ernest. But nobody’s quite sure who he really is.”

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He is an enigmatic player, similar to Marat Safin or Goran Ivanisevic in that you don’t know which Ernests will show up. That may be changing. The talent was unquestioned but the discipline and dedication was. With a new coach and pledge to cut out drinking and partying, the trust fund kid from Latvia is poised to make a serious challenge on the top 10.

His win over Andy Murray in Montreal last week was a shot across the bow and it’s really due to his ranking that he has had wretched draws and has few opportunities to remain consistent.  With 1 title in 2013 for a total of 3 career titles (never lost a final) , the summer hard court season provide Gulbis with a big chance to be seeded for the US Open. He reached a high of 21 in 2011 but he is a much better player than then and he knows it.

It’s this self-confidence, which can rub people the wrong way, but at least he does it with a wry smile. Ever quotable here is the straight dope:

On his motivation to achieve success in 2013

“I was really getting pissed to see who’s in the Top 100. There are some guys who I don’t know who they are. Some guys, I’m sorry–with respect–they can’t play tennis. I don’t know how they got into the Top 100. I think I’m much better than them. It’s a motivation.”

On reports that he flies to tournaments in a private jet

“Yes. And I have a helicopter, a submarine, and a spaceship.”

On his 2010 Los Angeles loss to Alejandro Falla

“Nothing worked today. I was just running like a Spanish clay-court player standing on the baseline and pushing the ball back. Women’s tennis.”

On Nadal’s mentality

“He thinks how to kill his opponent. He’s got a different mentality. Mine is closer to that of Marat Safin.”

On Fabrice Santoro

“He is a disgusting player. Even though outside of the court, an awesome dude.”

On being named after Ernest Hemingway:

 “My parents both read books like crazy. My father has a library in his home. He collects books. My mother also. They enjoyed Ernest Hemingway so they thought – why not?”

On what he has given up as he tries to make the most of his talent:

“Smoking, drinking, staying up late.”

Watch: Ernests Gulbis Uncovered

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