In Depth

Gulbis slams 'boring' tennis stars in French Open rant

Latvian lays into Djokovic, Murray, Federer and Nadal for talking 'crap' and calls for blood

Roger Federer

OUTSPOKEN Latvian tennis player Ernests Gulbis yesterday posed a question that will have fans at the French Open playing a guessing game. Which of the world's top four superstars "thinks all his opponents are arseholes"?

The controversial suggestion came during what The Guardian described as a "breathtakingly candid attack on the game's big four" from the temperamental 24-year-old, ranked 40 in the world.

Speaking before his defeat to home favourite Gael Monfils at Roland Garros, Gulbis (below) declared that modern tennis "badly lacks characters" and went on to explain why. "I respect Roger [Federer], Rafa [Nadal], Novak [Djokovic] and [Andy] Murray, but for me all four of them are boring players," he told L'Equipe. "Their interviews are boring. Honestly, they are crap ... It's a joke."

He blamed the trend on Federer and explained: "He has a superb image of the perfect Swiss gentleman. I repeat, I respect Federer but I don't like it that young players try to imitate him."

Gulbis, whose father is the fourth-richest man in Latvia, added that he had "no interest in appearing nice" and suggested that others should follow suit. "If I win, I've sent the other guy home. That is the reality," he said. "I do not want to hear a guy who I will not name, but who I know thinks all his opponents are arseholes, putting on an act."

He said he would like to see tennis players act more like boxers. "When they face each other down at the weigh-in, they bring what the fans want: war, blood, emotion. All that is missing in tennis."

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2013 AFP

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Simon Briggs appeared to agree. "The 1980s rivalries between McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl were full of venom and chicanery," he noted. But since Federer's emergence tennis has "developed a stifling culture of politeness".

He added that Djokovic had been forced to tone down his "sparky" character to fit in.

After his "terrific tirade", Gulbis was beaten in four sets by Monfils. The Frenchman's success prompted a congratulatory tweet from Murray, who is watching the tournament from his home in Surrey, and may have been put out by the Latvian's comments.

But the subtlest response, tweeted by a Swiss journalist, came from Federer. When asked about Gulbis's rant, he gently explained: "I know what Gulbis means. But we have to give interviews every single day, so it’s not our fault. Gulbis has to give very few interviews."

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