French Open 2014: Straight-talking Ernests Gulbis sets up clash with Roger Federer

Federer dropped a set on his way to reaching the fourth round

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Ernests Gulbis ended a six-year wait to reach the fourth round of a grand slam and set up a mouth-watering clash with Roger Federer in Paris.

Remarkably considering his enormous talent, Gulbis had lost in either the first or second round in 20 of his last 21 slams since reaching the quarter-finals of the French Open as a 19-year-old in 2008.

The 25-year-old, who is part of one of the wealthiest families in Latvia, has been better known for his straight talking than his tennis over the past few years.

At Roland Garros last year, where he lost in the second round, Gulbis made headlines by labelling the top four, and Federer in particular, boring.

Controversy follows Gulbis around, almost all of his own making, and there was more of the same on Friday as he addressed the subject of his younger sisters playing tennis.

He said: "Hopefully they will not pursue professional tennis careers. Hopefully. Because for a woman, it's tough.

"I wouldn't like my sisters to become professional tennis players. It's a tough choice of life. A woman needs to enjoy life a little bit more. Needs to think about family, needs to think about kids."

Gulbis is at least making headlines for his tennis as well these days.

He has won two titles this season, most recently last weekend in Nice, and is at a career-high ranking of 17.

Gulbis is the first to admit he only has himself to blame for not making the most of his talent earlier in his career.

He said: "I'm jumping on the last train. I'm 25, so this was my last opportunity to be really successful, I think, and I think I have a good seven, eight more years to play at the top level."

Roger Federer of Switzerland returns a shot during his men's singles match against Dmitry Tursunov of Russia on day six of the French Open


At the start of last year Gulbis was ranked outside the top 130 and his rise since has been swift.

Gulbis felt he needed to go through the tough times, though, saying: "I don't regret it at all, because I think in a way I'm in a better position.

"Maybe not as a tennis player but as a person. Because I have been through ups and downs.

"Most of the guys who are on top now, they haven't been down a lot. They haven't gone back from playing quarter-finals of a grand slam to asking for a wild card in a Challenger and not getting it, playing qualifying in a Challenger.

"And the attitude, how it changes a lot, from everybody. And I saw it. So now nothing can really blur my mind and my vision. I'm not going to be now suddenly friends with everybody."

Federer and Gulbis have played three times before, all in 2010 and all of them close, with the Swiss winning twice.

Gulbis said: "I have a game plan. I know how I'm going to play him.

"You don't need to be scared to do certain things against him, because most of the people, they go on the court and they lose already the match before it has started. I can tell you that's not going to be the case with me."