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Ernests Gulbis - first round

Monday 25 June 2012

E. GULBIS/T. Berdych

7‑6, 7‑6, 7‑6

Q. When we see you playing like that, we don't understand why you didn't win more matches the last 10 or 15 months. But you must know why.

ERNESTS GULBIS: I have been really working hard last month with the new coach, in a new place. I did good preparation here the week before. That's the result, you know. I really enjoy working with my new coach, Gunther Bresnik. He's based in Austria. First time I came to him and his academy I asked him to come to Paris and then Wimbledon as well.

It's really been good. He really helped me a lot.

Q. How do you explain since 2008 when you got to the quarters of Roland Garros your results in the Grand Slams? You just really haven't been there at all.

ERNESTS GULBIS: I took a vacation from Grand Slams. I didn't want to play them. I just played the small tournaments (laughter.)

Q. Is it a mental thing? A physical thing?

ERNESTS GULBIS: No, I'm just 23 years old. I'm going to be 24 this year. You know, a lot of players mature later than others. Some mature at 15; some mature the 29. I hope it's somewhere in between; 23 is okay.

So we see. I don't know. I don't want to make any predictions. Just go match by match. I play well today. Let's see what happens next round.

Q. Do you enjoy practicing any more than you used to?

ERNESTS GULBIS: (Smiling.) So‑so. I don't enjoy it, no. But if there is a right person who can push me, you know, and I understand why I need to do it, you know, and the results come, then slowly I start to understand what's necessary.

Yeah, I have been spending a really more time than ever on court and in the gym during this last month. The game shows it, you know, so maybe a click is going to happen.

Q. How confident were you coming into this match that you would be able to play like you did?

ERNESTS GULBIS: I have been playing really well in the practices. In the practices I beat everybody. Really, whoever I practiced with, he was out. Yeah, it gives me some confidence, you know. Even the practices give you some confidence.

I was a bit nervous in the beginning of the match, but then the way I served, it opened me up, and starting from second set I just got more relaxed.

Q. You served really well. It was a close match. Of course he's a very experienced player. In the third set in the first game I think was the only time I felt it wasn't a strong game, but then after that you didn't look back. You were mentally tough in every point and you have this game. It's just sometimes it's not there, but today mentally was...

ERNESTS GULBIS: You are unbelievable.

Q. No, no. In your movement also...

ERNESTS GULBIS: Thank you.

Q. It was amazing.

ERNESTS GULBIS: I listen like a compliment. I have no comment.

Q. But you should, because he's a very good opponent. You know, it's the first round at Wimbledon. Did you feel any nerves or...

ERNESTS GULBIS: No. Nothing. Zero. (Smiling.)

Q. At the French you lost a really close match, played pretty well, but it didn't go your way. Today you're dominating a top 10 player. What's the difference?

ERNESTS GULBIS: I was playing well already in Paris, really well. I liked the way I was hitting the ball. It's just that during these last like two, three weeks between Paris and here, I hit really maybe 100,000 more balls than I did before that, the way I like to hit it.

That's the difference, just to hit a lot of balls. It gives you confidence. You know, when you're not missing your practice and you go on court, you don't think, you just hit it.

Q. But at times it also felt like you were almost like overpowering him. Your forehand was amazing. You know, did you have a game plan? He missed a lot of backhands, and at the end almost like you were overpowering him.

ERNESTS GULBIS: That's nothing new. You know, if I hit the ball well, I hit stronger than everybody else. It is like this, you know. Maybe only couple guys hit the ball as strong as I do. Maybe only thing is just to stay in this level of game.

You know, for me, it was tough. Today it was great that I kept all three sets, you know, the concentration up and the game up. That's what made the difference today.

Before I played one set like this and then one set bad and then one set, like I just got broken once and that's it. I'm two sets to one down. Today I really kept going.

Q. Your strokes looked a little bit different. What have you been doing?

ERNESTS GULBIS: More relaxed. I was really uptight playing a couple months ago. I change a lot my technique. You know, I didn't have ‑‑ I was thinking too much on court. You know, actually, it was like a small click. You know, in the clay season I started to watch ‑‑ my mother actually sent me some old videos of me playing like 2007 and 2008. I saw the videos. It was a completely different technique, you know.

I understood that I need to relax the swings more and just to play more relaxed because I was thinking too much.

Q. So it's not a conscious change. Can you just describe what you doing or trying to do?

ERNESTS GULBIS: Basically I was hitting like this, and now I'm hitting like that. That's it. Very simple. I had it in me. You know, it's not like I learn a new technique. I had it in me. I just need to remember it.

Now with the new coach I really was working to remember my old game, which was coming from the guts, from the inside, you know, not that I was thinking, you know, now I'm going to play defense, now offense. Just stupid offense, you know, and then ‑‑ really, just this is the way I'm going to play.

Q. Why did you choose Gunther? Why did you choose to work with Gunther?

ERNESTS GULBIS: Every person who I met on tour spoke really well about him. I didn't hear one person saying anything bad about him as a person, as a coach. Really well‑respected guy.

I have some friends, you know, on tour, and there are some Finnish players who don't play anymore ‑ I don't want to named them ‑ but I had those guys. They told me, Listen, try him. You know, he's good.

I had nothing to lose. You know, I went, I sat in the car from Barcelona, went to Vienna, and I liked it. Basically first three practices I already felt a big change, so it was good.

Q. You talk about your mom. Your father was very happy of course and at the end clapping. Is your mother around?

ERNESTS GULBIS: She's coming from time to time to the big tournaments, yes. Not this one, but she's coming.

Q. Is there more pressure for you when people come like in the middle of the tournament?

ERNESTS GULBIS: No.

Q. Was there ever a time when you doubted if you still had it?

ERNESTS GULBIS: Yeah. It was basically in the beginning of this year. I really doubted a lot. I had a lot of thinking, because I didn't like the way I was playing at all. I was too defensive, too uptight. It wasn't really my game. Of course I doubted myself a lot. I was thinking what to do, and it was a tough time, you know. It was depressing, you know. Not depressing in my life because I'm not a depressing person, but on the court, you know, it was really was depressing. I couldn't find solutions.

I start to trust myself, what's coming from me more, playing with my instincts, and based on that, slowly.

But also it's just one match. Now I played one match well. I don't want to get excited. Okay, I beat a good player, but still the beginning of the tournament.

Q. Is there anything you enjoy more than playing tennis?

ERNESTS GULBIS: Yeah, a lot of stuff.

Q. Like what? Give me some examples.

ERNESTS GULBIS: What do you mean enjoy most in life?

Q. Football?

ERNESTS GULBIS: Football? Really?

Q. Without being really, really like polite, what is the biggest thing which you enjoy in life? Music? Verdasco says it's food.

ERNESTS GULBIS: Okay, Verdasco, it's his hairstyle it looks like he enjoys the most. Put gel in his hair.

Me, I will keep it a secret what I enjoy. Think about it. I think you all know.

Q. You're talking about having more experience because you're very young. The tour seems to be rewarding, right, more mature players in a way? So if you are patient and you keep working, you feel that you can reach your full potential, don't you feel?

ERNESTS GULBIS: It's really simple: you practice, results will come. You don't practice, results will not come. Also you have to practice in the right way which suits you. Everybody has their own way of practicing.

One likes to play one hour a day and go five hours in the gym. One likes to play a lot and don't go to gym. So you have to find your own balance, and you have your own formula and you go for it. Then it's easy.

If you find your formula, if you practice good enough and a lot, the results will come.

Q. When you look at players like Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, winning Grand Slams like you would like to do, what do they have that the other players are lacking? They have been so dominant for so long.

ERNESTS GULBIS: I think that basically they found ‑‑ only thing that they found ‑‑ first of all, they're really talented and they had the potential to do it. Not everybody can do it.

Not like was ‑‑ yeah, again, I don't want to name names, but let's say you can see a guy has it in him or he doesn't.

Then if a guy has it, he puts his life right, you know, he does the right stuff, you know, he found his own practice and balance in life, what he does, and then it all clicks. You win a couple of matches, you're confident, and then it goes easier, you know. You just have to maintain it if you're smart enough.

Q. Because you're one of those players that you're considered very talented. Do you feel more pressure to do well? In a way you are very talented. Sometimes when players like Agassi in the beginning was so talented and didn't want to practice sometimes, didn't have to work as hard. Is there more pressure when you feel there's a gift to this talent that you have?

ERNESTS GULBIS: More pressure? Yeah, maybe. Maybe also that, yeah. Because with age you realize that you have just one life, you know. If you don't make it ‑‑ you know, I don't know how long I'm going to play. Probably not more than until age of 30, you know.

I don't think I'm going to be able to, so I have just a couple more years left.

Q. Was the fact you're on center court, did that have any relation or bearing on the way you wanted to play and the way you played today? If you were on an outside‑court would it have felt quite the same?

ERNESTS GULBIS: I saw the draw and I was really happy. I wanted to play first round against a tough opponent. It motivates me much more, especially first round. You know, I really was really happy when I saw the draw. Really.

If would be somebody even higher ranked I wouldn't have a problem with that also. I felt really, really good during the practices, so...

Q. But in terms of actually being on a stage, there's nothing bigger than that. You felt, I really want to play well today? This is an opportunity I don't want to waste?

ERNESTS GULBIS: Yeah, it helps concentration, definitely. Helps to keep focused, you know, when you're playing on a big court, you know, where all the cameras are there. I know everyone in Latvia is watching the match.

So you want to keep ‑‑ it helps for the focus, definitely.

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