They Said What? Gulbis' Latest Misfire

by: Peter Bodo | February 26, 2013

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“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.”Ernests Gulbis, to the Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov.

Oh boy, where do you start with this one? When Gulbis says “with respect,” he’s just like the person who prefaces something he’s dying to say with the words, “I hate to say this, but. . .”

However, let’s focus on something that may be more positive, perhaps even fruitful. After all, this is a callow, pampered 24-year-old we’re talking about. His comment is less a criticism of those unfortunate, anonymous (at least to Gulbis) souls he decries than a confession of just how little he understands about his profession and its basic mandates—which are to work hard, compete well, and take nothing for granted.

Gulbis has not worked very hard; his guilt in this is somewhat mitigated by the fact that unlike some of his peers, he’ll be the first to ‘fess up in that regard.

Gulbis has not competed well, at least on a day-in, day-out basis. He’s lucky he’s a tennis player, and not an infantryman. He’d be long dead if he were.

Gulbis takes a lot for granted.

Call these shortcomings the fruit of a volatile, inborn, and—one hopes—unconscious sense of entitlement. After all, the Latvian lad’s father is a fabulously successful investment banker, and his mother is a theater actress. This leaves him somewhat insulated from the reality most of his fellow pros face, and helps explain why his ranking has plummeted from a career-high of No. 21 (Feb. 2011) to his present No. 109. But it’s troubling that his only real response has been to blame the less gifted for their success, and to essentially proclaim, “What, me worry?”

As Gulbis went on to say, “I want to play maybe five more years and do the best I can. My goal is to really win something big.”

Unless Gulbis is careful, by the time those five years are up, that “something big” could be the Campinas Challenger.

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