Gulbis Criticized Big Three in No Holds Barred Interview

In an interview with a Latvian newspaper translated by On the Go Tennis, Ernests Gulbis criticizes Novak Djokovic for how he’s changed since becoming successful.

“I’ve known him since I was 12 years old,” Gulbis said. “We trained and lived together in the same room in Munich. I remember he was a normal, cool guy. But when he achieved his first big success then the look in his eyes just changed. You could just feel it. It’s not like we argued or anything, I just feel like he has changed and I don’t like that in people. I like strong characters who don’t change when first success or money appear—that’s the most important quality for me and it’s also important for myself not to change.”

Earlier this year, Gulbis said that the men’s Top 4 players were boring. In the interview last week, he said top players are image-conscious, “money-earning machines.”

“To be honest I actually like to provoke others sometimes. I said few times about Nadal and other top players that they are boring in their interviews and such. Everybody just acts the same, everybody’s the same,” Gulbis said. “I don’t want to be like all the others, I want to be different. Top players are money-earning machines—if they would say something ‘not right’ then they could lose contracts, sponsors and they are afraid of it. If you have started to act one way then you have to continue to act that way—Roger started to act as Swiss gentleman and now he has to continue to act like one, if he did something different, nobody would understand that. I’m all for individualism.”

http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2013/09/gulbis-doesnt-how-djokovic-has-changed/49191/#.VTz-fSFViko

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  • Djokovic’s Character

Some good stuff here. I just went ahead and posted the whole article because most of it was quoted anyway. This interview was back in 2013 and not much would have changed since then. At first glance what Gulbis says about the Djoker is not very complimentary, and I for one don’t like it when success changes people. That is indeed a sign of poor character. It is something I don’t like about Djokovic, but we all have our flaws, don’t we? At least he is a funny guy.

I was just discussing the matter with someone on twitter and he noted that Serbian and Croatian people suffered a lot from war and that they have a very different mentality. They need a lot of love and appreciation. And again I can totally identify with that, coming from the emotional war that was my youth. There is no need to judge, and I don’t think that is what Gulbis is doing here either. He is just the kind of guy who says what is on his mind and I have a great appreciation for that too.

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The top players these days are a bunch of boring PR bots with zero personality. Gulbis is a strong individual because he does not care about popularity. The truth is more important to him and I very much identify with that too. To get back to Djokovic, coming from a difficult background gives people character and he certainly is a character. He is a much funnier and interesting personality than Fedal, and he does crazy things like insulting the spectators and smashing racquets.

  • Fedal’s Boring PR Images

In the second part of the article Gulbis talks about Fedal’s boring PR images. I totally agree with him here too. Roger’s interviews are at least a bit more interesting than Nadal’s, but it comes to the same. Just PR machines not saying what they really think in order to uphold their public image. And again, with Roger there is at least a bit more honesty compared to Nadal’s fake modesty. Roger says what he thinks mostly, but there is a line he won’t cross. And again this has nothing to do with judging.

Everyone has their priorities and everyone is different. But for someone like me whose first priority is truth and honesty, and not popularity, I prefer the likes of Gulbis. Roger is an individual himself in the sense that he is kind of an impeccable guy. He doesn’t seem to be corrupted by fame. He is just a very clean and real guy which is something rare for famous people. It is easy to succumb to fame and sell out. But Roger has always remained very grounded and exemplary.

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He is not boring per se. He is just the perfect Swiss gentleman like Gulbis says and he is now expected to conduct his affairs in a certain way. There is just a certain predictability and lack of freedom in that which I don’t care for. Of course in Roger’s tennis, there is no predictability and lack of freedom. I am talking about his personality. So like I said before, the Djoker’s slightly crazy personality and lack of predictability has been a nice change up. And, of course, the same goes for his game which is the exact opposite of Roger’s.

  • In Conclusion

The main thing here is not to judge. I’m sure some Fedfans will be delighted that I posted this so that they can now go ahead and judge Djokovic and my blog. Other than the fact that it will get your comment deleted, it will also make you look like a hypocrite, so don’t bother. I made this post to show that I don’t think the Djoker is perfect, just like I don’t think Roger is perfect. We are all different and we all have our different likes and dislikes, and there is no need to judge. There is also no need to worship blindly.

Roger has the perfect public image, but that comes at a price itself. And as far as tennis goes he was never mentally strong enough to overcome his main rival, who owns him in the head-to-head. Djokovic may be weak and insecure when it comes to the public, but when it comes to crunch time he is mentally as strong as they come. We don’t need any better example than the Wimbledon final last year where he edged Roger despite Roger’s best effort ever to get back into a match.

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And that kind of mental strength and will to win comes from adversity. So yeah, no need to judge anyone. Not even Nadal. I don’t like Nadal, but there is a lot to respect and appreciate. He is mentally stronger than Djokovic even and that probably comes from uncle Toni being really tough on him since he was a boy. I also think Djokovic has matured a lot over the years, and with the stability of a wife, a kid, and legendary status as a tennis player he is now more secure and comfortable in his own skin.

The 30 best quotes of Ernests Gulbis’ career.

The  is in your court.

Posted in Uncategorized.

29 Comments

  1. I love that this blog now has the freedom to get into this type of discussion. I won’t nitpick what you said here by I agree and disagree with you on the specifics of this generally fascinating topic, and believe it or not, I have thought about it from time to time over the last few years. Even though I think Gulbis is a bit of a jerk who doesn’t need to worry about his image because his daddy’s a billionaire, I think he’s absolutely right. I think it’s a shame actually that Djokovic has lost a considerable amount of his fantastic and unique personality the more he strives to be loved by the millions that love Roger. I remember many years ago after a grueling long match he played in relentless heat that Djoker was asked on court how he felt when the sun fell below the edge of the stadium and created shade finally. He said it was so good it felt like making love to his beautiful girlfriend. That was awesome! Sadly he would never say something like that now. He’s too much of a brand and that brand needs to sell watches and fancy cars and insurance to stuffy rich people all over the planet so he needs to maintain his brand perfectly. It’s a bummer in the same way that I feel about Times Square in my beloved New York City. It used to be a dirty and dangerous unique place in this world and now it’s just another generic Disney-like square in which brands can advertise to tourists. Boring. Generic. Corporate. Though this is happening in all corners of society, in tennis it is largely Rogers fault. Yes Roger. As Ruan says he is really just a perfect Swiss gentleman and that combined with his incredible tennis has made him the biggest branded tennis money making machine in history. It’s hard to blame the other guys from wanting the riches that Roger has but it’s sad that they feel they have to copy him to do that. The thing I would mostly disagree with you on Ru-an is that success hasn’t changed Roger. Looking back on it I think there was a turning point for him in which his fame got to his head and he simultaneously stopped being as dominant. I hope and trust you and the others with better memory than mine can tell me if this is true or my imagination. For me was the moment when Roger showed up at Wimbledon wearing that elaborate all white warm up suit with the collar. I thought he looked like Michael Jackson and I was embarrassed for him. Roger turned up for a celebrity event and Rafa showed up for a war. It reminded me of one of the Rocky movies when Apollo Creed was showboating and barely training for the exhibition with the local Italian bum, and Rocky was in the fridge punching racks of beef. My point is that Roger became a celebrity maybe even more than an athlete / fighter. Maybe had he taken that match more seriously things in his head to head with Rafa might have been different. Or maybe I’m just making all that up. I’m sure you’ll let me know. Anyway, truly love the conversations the blog change is making possible. I hope Joe can take a moment to comment on this as I bet his insight would be very interesting.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Hey Eric. Cheers for the blog love. You are right about Roger actually. In the end fame goes to everyone’s head. That’s why it’s better not to have it. Roger seems more concerned about selfies and doing Q & A on twitter with his teen fans these days than winning matches against the likes of Seppi and Monfils. He became arrogant during his peak and that cost him vs Nadal. He insisted on trying to hit Nadal off the court from the baseline at the French Open which was a moronic tactic. Had he stuck his silly pride in his pocket back then and changed things up he would have beaten Nadal at the FO. But once Nadal got the upper hand it was all over.
    I still think Fed is a pretty clean guy though. He is not as bad as some of the celebs. I just don’t like the boring PR thing.

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  2. Billionaire’s son can’t understand the less secure “proles” who get successful later in life. Ho hum. Reminds me of reading Paul Fussell’s Class.

    When Djoker showed personality he was constantly attacked for it and accused of being disrespectful. Now he’s accused of being boring! Of course those boring guys like Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, and Federer let their tennis do the talking. Perennial underachieving Gulbis only gets press coverage for his interviews. I actually think three* of the “big four” (Djokovic, Federer, Murray) have interesting personalities – they are all pretty funny in their own ways but also have negative traits like we all do. That’s fine. I’ve followed tennis since the late 1970s and I remember the negative remarks about Borg’s supposed lack of personality and how much fun jerks like Nastase, Connors, and McEnroe were. I remember the anti-Borg sentiment carried through to fellow quiet Swede Mats Wilander. (Poor Mats was even condemned for falling in love with a white South African during the anti-Apartheid 80s). I’ve no problems with the current stars of the sport and would hate them to act like the McEnroes of the world. Yes, there is too much “corporate-speak” in sports today but that goes well beyond tennis. It is easy for Gulbis to have a go at the sport’s spokesmen like Federer and Djokovic in much the same way that it is easier for a teenager to lash out at how society is run than it is for his parents to do so. Gulbis has no responsibilities.

    * Nadal’s poor English makes it difficult for him to fully express his personality so even though I cheer against him I think we should give him a pass on that.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Personally I would love to see the outbursts from the likes of Connors and Mcenroe right now. It would be so refreshing with all the PR BS going on. They were jerks no doubt, but they were characters too. And the sport lacks that. That’s why a guy like Gulbis is refreshing. Even Djokovic who insults the crowd and does funny things. Sure Fed has responsibilities, but he chose it. He chose to act in a certain way from the start and now he has to continue.

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    Jiten Reply:

    Well, the difference between jerks like Gulbis and big mouths like McEnroe and Connors is that theirs racquets did the talking as well whereas Gulbis’ racquet talks only rarely. By the way, who knows, he may have been paid by the media to talk the way he is doing as his racquet is not earning much these days!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    You are right Jiten I don’t actually like Gulbis the tennis player. I just think he is a unique guy and a character. I hate his new fh for instance ad don’t understand why he changed it. I just like his personality and ability to say what is on his mind. He isn’t the worst tennis player it has to be said though, even though he is on a very poor run. At least he’s been top 10 and has a win over Fed in slams and over Nadal on clay. Those are all very difficult to do, and he isn’t nearly the jerk Jmac and Jimmy were lol.

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    eric Reply:

    Oh, c’mon Ru-an. Can you imagine what a jerk Gulbis would be if he was number one in the world, tennis legend, like those guys were? And that forehand isn’t just weird it’s like a 1970’s toupee, it’s freaking bizarre!!! He didn’t develop that as a kid and stick with it because it was good – he chose that forehand – he built that forehand!!!!!

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  3. While i agree with most of your points looking at it from the other angle…dont u think Gulbis is just one of us who is J seeing his friends achieve what he couldn’t and goes on ranting…

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    Ru-an Reply:

    No, I don’t think he is jealous necessarily. But he is a bit of a clown that’s for sure. Sometimes he goes too far.

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    eric Reply:

    I think Gulbis wants to be a spectacle more than he wants to be a champion.

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  4. Well i read your blog regularly but i ddon’t comment here, but what i have seen you have certain liking for Djokovic, Djokovic is good but only because he beats nadal, as fed fan its delightful to watch rafa suffering string of loses against Djokovic.. But if we talk about the game of Djokovic then No.. Even you enjoy watching rafa with his expressive style his vamos and expression and passion to win. Djokovic’s game is like a pattern boring , roger has so much variety rafa has power but djoker plays a perfect like game with no joy to watch his volleys are miaerable poor slice so we can never enjoy watching him he is not the guy, though his funny side is good i like that but if you are replacing the header of blog with Djokovic’s poster its not good to wafch but if you say its all about tennis then i would like to see rafa’s poster too as your header

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Cheers for the read Wajii. I wouldn’t say I like Nadal with his expressive style. I just respect his will to win. As for the Djoker I don’t find his style boring at all. I love his movement and baseline consistency. His slice and volleys are not like Fed’s but like I said I enjoy the change up of a player with great returns and masterful bh that does not break down no matter how many vicious topspin fhs Nadal hits there. I also like his somewhat volatile personality. Finally, I am not putting Nadal’s poster as my header. He was recently up there with Fed and Djoker and sometimes I will post a picture of him but that is as far as I go. I don’t like him even though I do respect some things about him.

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    eric Reply:

    Yeah, I don’t think I could handle Nafal becoming your poster boy… that is a bridge too far. Unless of course it is a shot of him shaking Fed or Novak’s hand at the FO net after losing to one of them :-)

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Ha no that would be a bit too crazy Eric, even for me. There wouldn’t be much sense in me loving Djoker for his ability to beat Nadal like a drum while having Nadal as my poster boy at the same time, would there? I still have my favorites because tennis is more fun that way for me. I think it would be boring to watch tennis if you have no favorites and no one to hate!

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    Jiten Reply:

    Ru-an, I don’t want to see your header look Dull. Your blog deserves more than that. So please.. After all, your blog is called ultimate tennis now! :-)

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Spot on as usual Jiten. Nadal represents everything that the ultimate tennis player is not, aside from his mental strength. And besides, if I made him the poster boy it would be the final straw for Fedfans. They are already on the brink, and I am still a Fedfan myself after all.

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    wajii Reply:

    Your header is the only thing i don’t like here, otherwise now this new improved blog is very nice and specially i liked the fact you will write about other players, Thiem kyrgios kokkinakis are the future and are treat to watch, but here i dont agree with you djoker’s game is so robotic and boring, kids won’t idolize djoker they all fancy about roger like thiem kyrgios and kokkinakis all accept their hero us Roger. Djokovic’s game is not inspiring for kids too. Trnnis is not a team game so you need to have stylish game as well as personality to gain following. well and i have a suggestion you can read about young guns sometimes even Nishikori is playing very well i hope he would start beating djoker consistently .

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    wajii Reply:

    I meant “write” instead of read. Sorry for the mistakes i am commenting through my phone so their are some mistakes due to touch keyboard

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks but I don’t think the Djoker’s game is robotic and boring. He is quite animated out there and do things that take tremendous skill, like his returns and defensive bh. I definitely think Nadal is robotic and boring though. He is out and out a defensive player who retrieves and frustrates his opponents relentlessly. He is the most negative player in the history of the sport probably. I can’t stand his dull, moonballing game.

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    wajii Reply:

    But Nadal is good for the game he is a different player, what he acheived on clay is beyond incredible and he has win 2 Wimbledon 2 us open also so he is definitely a great player and if he is absent from the tour its not that interesting , may be nadal plays defensive but i like the players who are excited to watch and expresas their emotions , nadal has skills too his bh smash is 2nd to Roger only his forehand inside out is incredible . I hated him but i love to watch him too (watch him lose though lol) but he is so essential for the game and i really respect him alot the way he won 2008 wimby 2009 aus open 2013 semi against djoker and 2014 final.and if you talk about greatness Djoker is far away from rafa yet. The heights which roger touched are beyond his imagination.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Right Wajii. I have a lot of respect for what Nadal achieved but like you I like to watch him to see him lose. I totally agree with your notion that he is essential for tennis because without him Fed would have dominated to the point of extreme boredom. Nadal kept tennis interesting. But he is still the villain in the story for and I’m not a fan. And yes the Djoker is still far away from Fedal but he is catching up. I won’t be surprised if he surpasses Nadal but tennis is very unpredictable.

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    wajii Reply:

    Yeah but when any player starts to dominate the tour it starts get boring again, like2this year 4 months 4 big titles all won by the same man. Nadal’s weak performances have given djoker the license to kill, and roger is not beating djoker in big finals we need atleast 2 guys to fight for glory last year it was tight between djoko and fed but this year its a one man show, murray has fallen , roger is not at his v best nadal is performing worst ,i think Nishikori needs to stand up now to challenge the djoker, although i am still not writing off nadal for the FO, and roger too who knows a kind draw, an early upset for nadal and fed can beat djoker coz djoker feels the heat here if you have watched the semi and final of 2013 n 14 you can see how tense and stiff Djokovic was, so anything can happen. But fedal will have to stand up to stop djoker i would LOVE to see djoker lose another FO it will be food for tennis good for roger.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    How will it be good for Roger if the Djoker doesn’t win the FO? And how will it be good for tennis? Roger got lucky when Nadal lost to Soderling in 2009. Why can’t the Djoker get some luck? Not that he really needs it. He can beat Nadal himself. That is the best possible scenario for tennis right there. It would mean complete ownage of Nadal by the Djoker. THAT would be good for Roger because it could well spell the end of Nadal and it means Nadull doesn’t come closer to his slam count. Roger has been unable to hold Nadal off himself and the task fell to the Djoker. If it wasn’t for the Djoker Nadull would be GOAT already. Is that what you wanted? You don’t seem to make much sense, or maybe your are just trolling.

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    wajii Reply:

    Roger has won 1 FO rafa has 9 djoko has 0. If djoker wins then the gates will open he would need to win one Us open which i think he will win this year, and he can win FO again next year (my opinion though) then people will start talking about that he is GOAT double career slam, he has already 5 aus open a record. 23 masters equal to roger (he could end up like winning 40 at this pace) and we all know he has not that magical game nor the personality to be called a real GOAT like Federer, Federer won his FO with luck and he lost 4 finals against rafa. otherwise we wouldn’t have called Federer a GOAT had he not win the FO like samprass has never won it. and i think we have already 2 big guys i simply can’t see djoker in the best league of fedal. djoker is never a crowd favorite either like they have love for fed, a real GOAT . So i dont want a satistical GOAT (i see the big picture or i am over hyping whatever) i dont want djoko and rafa to win FO this year thats it but thats not gonna happen though. But he knows tennis is a funny game what roger says so cheers i will enjoy whoever wins it lets see

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  5. Things have changed since I first bookmarked this blog in 2011. Don’t know if it is for the better though. I remember never actually posting a comment for years and always being happy to read your entire article. Even though that has not changed now I am actually scared of commenting anymore.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Well, you know the deal Ajay. If I don’t think your comment fits in with my new blog I will delete it, and if you keep doing it you will get banned. Otherwise, there is no reason to be afraid to comment at all. People comment all the time and I don’t delete any comments. You are the only one who I have deleted comments from lately.

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  6. I found one press conference which was out of the box for Fed.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Istcd6U_J9s
    That’s the PC post USO 2011 SF. Roger was a total badass in the interview. Of course he was criticized a lot for that, just look at some of the comments in youtube and you’ll get to know. I guess when you mentioned that Roger never crosses a certain line even though he’s honest, this was exactly what you were talking about. All he did was cross the line once and look at all those reactions which he got for that. That’s the effect he had created by being a perfect Swiss Gentleman, and just by one small variation in his behavior people were outraged.
    In the PR aspect my favorite is Roddick and his hilarious interviews. He didn’t give a damn about what others thought about him and such. Kinda opposite to Djokovic’s attitude I guess.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Good find Nakul. That match was a prime example of Roger getting spooked by a crazy shot and collapsing afterward. It happens when he plays Nadal too. And then in the presser afterward he appeared bitter. The fact is both Djokovic and Nadal makes those kinds of shots in crucial moments, so he shouldn’t have been surprised and collapsed. He should have just stayed in the moment and focused on the next point. This is where Roger has a mental flaw. He doesn’t stay in the moment the way Nadal and Djokovic does, and it’s cost him many a slam title. But he’s done fairly well for himself, wouldn’t you say? ;-)

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  7. Ha, right, as you had mentioned in your post after that US open final when Nadal got a good belting from Djoker, it was definitely a blessing in disguise. We can deny ourselves as much as we want but Fed would have definitely lost to Nadal in the final. If Nadal had won that he could have won the AO final the next year too, even though he was facing Djokovic. We never know. Anyway what I mean is that everything happens for a reason. Fed is good enough not to lose to his nemesis in each and every slam, no? ;-)
    I loved that press conference, especially the part when someone asks him if Djokovic’s confidence was the reason for him to make that shot. His answer was priceless!

    [Reply]

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