How Ernests Gulbis would save tennis

PARIS -- What can you say about the big four? They’ve managed to win 13 straight Grand Slam titles and 31 out of the past 32. Either Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic has held the top ranking since 2004 and Andy Murray is your reigning Olympics and US Open champ.

By all accounts, you have to believe this is one of the most exciting eras the game has ever seen -- unless you’re Ernests Gulbis.

In a recent interview with L’Equipe, Latvia’s loose-lipped maverick went on a confounding rant. “Tennis today badly lacks characters,” Gulbis said … “I respect Roger, Rafa, Novak and Murray but, for me, all four of them are boring players. Their interviews are boring.”

Then, amid all the bluster, Gulbis admonished Federer for being “a perfect Swiss gentleman” and said it turns his stomach to listen to other players channel Federer’s diplomatic news conferences.

“When I hear them answer like Roger, I am terrified by phrases like, ‘I had a little bit more success at certain moments and that is how I won,'" he said. "If I win, the guy on the other side of the net, I [would] have sent him home.”


To recap, today’s tennis has fostered four of the most accomplished players ever -- and Gulbis is bent out of shape because they’re nice guys. Let this NOT be a lesson to your children.

Perhaps, as Gulbis so desires, tennis should emulate boxing and add some punch to these humdrum pressers. Imagine this: Nadal is ripping Federer for his soft backhand, and just when you think the barbaric Spaniard is done talking, he then threatens to eat Federer’s children after he’s through smoking him in another French Open final. Game on.

Or maybe Djokovic goads Murray into a press-side rumpus by calling his mother a controlling, uh, witch. Yeah, baby. That’ll lead to a couple of rounds of fisticuffs.

For Gulbis, a fix of acrimony would help solve an era marred by all this toxic serenity and skill.

After all, who cares about record-shattering greatness?