A lot of players have shown up at the Winston-Salem Open hoping to gain some last minute confidence and match time on hard courts before the start of the U.S. Open. One player who is having an unexpected run at the event is Ernests Gulbis who is having yet another roller coaster year, but mostly on the downside as he’s now ranked No. 153. But that will go up soon thanks in part to his win today against Kevin Anderson to reach the third round.
“I’m not playing my best tennis, but I’ve got a little bit of a confidence now, so who knows maybe I can win the tournament,” said Gulbis afterwards.
When asked about his shock win over Tomas Berdych in the first round of Wimbledon and if he gave him any confidence he said, “I just proved to myself once again that when I play good I can beat anybody and it’s clear for rest of the players also that when I play well they have trouble.”
On the subject of the city of New York and that some pros don’t care for all of its noise and hassle, Gulbis quipped, “Well some players are princesses. I like New York a lot. I don’t like a place like Cincinnati where you have one Applebees, two hotels and you go outside and get depressed, it’s a joke.”
On what Gulbis’s favorite thing to do in New York, the Latvian replied with a smirk, “I’m not going to tell you,” before laughing.
A telling response perhaps considering Gulbis’s past off-court behavior has gotten him into some rather sticky situations especially in Stockholm a few years ago. When the subject of his reputation gets mentioned and if he knows that people talk more about that than his tennis, Gulbis took a very long, thoughtful pause before answering
“I’m trying to balance it, with age you become more and more professional. So now I come down a bit, I do the right stuff. Still I have my moments and I’m sure you will here about them from time to time but I will try to keep it more quiet.”
After the U.S. Open, Gulbis plans to travel to Asia but one thing he doesn’t plan on doing is competing in challenger events to try and boost his ranking. Gulbis prefers playing qualies at main tour events because he believes he is good enough to reach the quarters or even semis of them when his game is on. Despite his recent fall out of the top 150, Gulbis makes it clear he believes he is meant to be a top 50 player or better, and not anything less.
“No disrespect to the other guys but I see some of the names in the top fifty and I am a bit shocked. This is my motivation because it is not understandable for me.”
While Gulbis agrees that rankings are largely based on consistent results, he believes that quality is always better than quantity when it comes to getting wins.
“Some of the guys play a lot of challengers and they are already ranked top hundred. I may have played two challengers in last four or five years. I always go to big tournaments no matter what. I might go to a challenger because of lack of match play but never just for points. I know any given week I can reach quarters and semis at the big events and the big points are at events like here and bigger. I just need two good weeks or more and I know I will be back in top fifty.”
Gulbis will try and reach the quarters of Winston-Salem when he takes on Marcel Granollers next.