Mats Wilander has told The Tennis Space that Ernests Gulbis, who defeated former finalist Tomas Berdych in the first round, remains unreliable: “I’m not really convinced.”
Did Gulbis’s performance against Berdych make you think that he’s now going to make the most of his talent?
“He’s had some good moments and good tournaments in the past. After a while you ask, ‘is that where he’s at, having one good tournament or one good win a year?’ Every time he does it, you think, this could be the start of something. I’m not really convinced. He’s got the game, he’s got the shots. The difference here on the Wimbledon grass is that he can get on a roll, by serving well, and there’s nothing to stop him. When he’s on a roll, he finds it enjoyable to play tennis. He doesn’t have the right mind at the moment, but sometimes that’s just a switch that you can’t find.
“You just look at Djokovic – he found the switch and he went to one in the world. It could be now for Gulbis – he certainly has the physical qualities as a player, and he has the mental qualities as a player when he’s focused. It’s the times when no one’s watching, and you’re on an outside court, or when you’re seeded and playing someone you should be beating, those are the matches you should be winning, not matches on Centre Court against former finalists. Those are the times when you’re going to be psyched up. That’s not a bad quality to have, by the way. I would rather that quality he has of being able to step it up on the big occasions, and not feeling intimidated. He feels as though he belongs, even though sometimes he doesn’t. He belongs when he plays well. I think he has a future.”
Gulbis, whose father is one of Latvia’s richest men, has said that he’s not interested in fame or money. Does that set him apart from the rest of the locker-room?
“Most players aren’t that interested in money. They have to make money as they don’t have any so I guess that’s one thing he doesn’t have to worry about. But any top player isn’t worrying about the same thing that he’s not worrying about. Because he has that mindset, maybe it’s tough to get up for the matches when no one is watching. Does it really matter to him whether he’s 83 in the world, or 63 or 43? Not a big difference, as long as he gets into the grand slams. I guess maybe he should want to guarantee that he gets into the Masters Series tournaments. If he gets to the top 10 that’s an achievement. But if you go from 85 to 25 is that an achievement?”
Mats Wilander and Annabel Croft are presenting Live @ Wimbledon this fortnight. http://www.wimbledon.com/en_GB/interactive/index.html