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'Addicted To Success,' Gulbis Cracks Top 10

Paris, France

Gulbis© AFP/Getty ImagesErnests Gulbis is the first Latvian to break into the Top 10.

After years of soul-searching, ups and downs, Ernests Gulbis has found the way to deliver his best tennis on a consistent basis. His reward? A place for the first time today in the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings. He is the first Latvian man to achieve the feat.

On his run through to his first major semi-final at Roland Garros, Gulbis stunned Roger Federer in five sets in the fourth round and dismissed Tomas Berdych for the loss of nine games in the quarter-finals, before finally falling in four sets to Novak Djokovic last Friday. 

The Paris result came on the heels of compiling a 27-10 record through the first five months of the season, highlighted by winning two titles in Marseille (d. Tsonga) and Nice (d. Delbonis).

The 25-year-old Gulbis rises from No. 17 to No. 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. As he now turns his attention to the grass-court swing, beginning at the Aegon Championships this week, the Riga native has set his sights on the World No. 1 mantle.

“I'm not going to celebrate,” said Gulbis after his defeat to Djokovic. “It's not enough. I need to reach more now. Now I'm addicted to success, really. I need to make this extra step now. I'm extra motivated.”

When pressed by journalists on far he thought he could go in the Emirates ATP Rankings, Gulbis responded, "All the way to No. 1."

Reflecting on his battle with Djokovic, Gulbis admitted he hadn’t been able to produce his best level due to nerves and tension, but is looking to take the positives from the experience against six-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic.

“I'm not used to playing these kinds of big matches,” said Gulbis. “It's just normal that I felt extra nervous and extra tense. I can take one positive out of the match: that I could still win the third set [when I was] feeling that nervous and that extra tired. That's one thing that I take for the future. 

“The more I play these kinds of matches, the more I'm going to get used to these situations. For me, I take only the positive stuff out of it. I need to be in these situations once, twice, three times and then I can maybe make that extra step. I enjoyed it.”

Gulbis also spoke of his relief at the tension lifting from his shoulders now that his time at Roland Garros has come to an end. Finding himself in unchartered territory, with greater expectations than he has faced before at a Grand Slam championship, the Latvian had struggled to enjoy the wins he claimed for more than an hour after the match. Again, though, Gulbis is learning the lessons as he goes.

“Can I say that it was only positive emotions? No,” said the right-hander. “It was a lot of tension, a lot of nerves for me. Even after I won a match, I felt really good for one hour, but then I already started thinking about the next match and the tension was there and it didn't let go. 

“Now let's say I feel relieved. I'm not happy that I lost, but I feel in a way relieved, that I have at least not another match for a couple of days, until the grass-court season.

“The overall experience is just that I understood it much more than I did the previous time I was in the second week of a Grand Slam,” said Gulbis, who made his first major quarter-final appearance at Roland Garros six years ago, also losing to Djokovic. “The previous time I reached a quarter-final, I had no idea what was happening.  

“Now I really understood every feeling and I learned from it and I tried to enjoy it. And even if it's like negative emotions, like being nervous and being tense, I tried to even enjoy that and understand it, to understand how I can be better next time.”

Note: This story was originally published June 6 and has been updated.

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