French Open 2018: New father Ernests Gulbis says he's focused on tennis after win against Gilles Muller
Latvian free spirit Ernests Gulbis, now a proud father, knows that time to make his undoubted on-court talents count is rapidly running out.
Paris: He's defeated Roger Federer, reached the world's top 10, was once arrested for soliciting prostitutes and blasted the 'big four' of tennis for being boring.
But Latvian free spirit Ernests Gulbis, now a proud father, knows that time to make his undoubted on-court talents count is rapidly running out.
"I want to win more than I did eight years ago. Things change. I pay more attention to what I am doing on the court," said 29-year-old Gulbis, now down at 160 in the world and forced to come through qualifying at this year's Roland Garros.
"I once would lose easy matches and think I still have 10 more years ahead of me.
"Now I know time is limited and I probably have three more good years left in me."
Gulbis, the son of a wealthy Latvian investment banker and an actress mother, has never been far from the headlines in his colourful career.
He famously defeated Federer to make the French Open semi-finals in 2014 before reportedly blowing his winnings in a Riga casino.
He also once spent a night in the cells in Sweden for allegedly soliciting prostitutes — which he blamed on a "silly misunderstanding" — and was immediately portrayed as the man with a racquet in his hand let down by the silver spoon in his mouth.
"Yes, I have a Learjet," he once jousted with the media. "And I have a helicopter, a submarine and a spaceship."
The headlines kept on coming.
On one visit to Roland Garros, he famously criticised Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray for being "boring".
However, Gulbis, the owner of one of the sport's most destructive forehands, insists that he is now fully dedicated to tennis.
Married to former model Tamara Kopaleyshvili and having become the father of a baby girl in March, he says he owes it to himself to capitalise on his ability.
"I haven't forgotten the win over Federer," he said Monday after making the second round at the French Open by beating Luxembourg's 29th seed Gilles Muller 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.
"But what difference does it make? OK, I beat him, I was number 10. It's all about how you evolve as a person, what you understand in the head.
"You can be number 1, 10, 50. If that's what you want for your ego, then OK. I don't have these ambitions anymore.
"My ambition is to get through this phase. I need to do it as a man and a husband, to do it for myself."
Just don't ask him about being a father.
"That's a private thing."
Nadal published a photo of himself on Instagram on Saturday holding crutches with his left foot bandaged.
Murray, now down at 116 in the world, lost to 158th-ranked Roman Safiullin of Russia, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.
Murray, who underwent right hip surgery in 2017 and again 2019, lost in five sets to third-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas in the first round in New York, where the Scot won the third of his major titles in 2012.