Ernests Gulbis (born August 30, 1988) is a tennis player from Latvia. He is currently ranked 46th in the world for singles, and 211th for doubles. Considered one of the brightest young talents in men's tennis, he is the highest ranked player born in 1988, ahead of Juan Martin del Potro and Evgeny Korolev. Gulbis is coached by Nikola Pilic, the former Yugoslavian tennis player and Croatian Davis Cup captain, and has been training at the Niki Pilic Tennis Academy in Germany since he was 12.
Gulbis first started playing tennis with his grandmother and considers basketball, soccer and hockey as his favourite sports. His father, Ain?rs, is an investment businessman and his mother, Milena, is a theatre actress. The second of five children, Gulbis has three sisters (El?na, Laura and Monika) and one younger brother named Kristaps. Gulbis comes from a sporting family and his grandfather, Alvils, was one of the starting five players on ASK R?ga, the Soviet Union basketball team that won the European Championships. His other grandfather, Uldis P?c?tis, was a popular actor and film director.
Gulbis speaks three languages: Latvian, Russian and English.
The highlights of his career up to 2006 are: reaching the final of the Oberstaufen Challenger in July 2006, where he lost to Michal Tabara; reaching the final of the Tampere Challenger, also in July 2006, where he lost to Florian Mayer; reaching the semi-finals of ATP St. Petersburg Open as a wildcard in October, where he lost to Mario Ancic; and winning the Eckental Challenger in November, where he defeated Philipp Petzschner.
Gulbis started his season as a qualifier in the Sydney Medibank International, losing in the first round to Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus. He was subsequently defeated in the first qualifying round of the Australian Open.
Gulbis has been relatively successful on the Challenger circuit in 2007. He reached the quarterfinals in Bergamo (l. to Fabrice Santoro) and the semifinals in Heilbronn (l. to Michael Llodra). Gulbis won his second Challenger title by triumphing over the local favourite, Edouard Roger-Vasselin, at the Besançon Challenger in France, enabling him to break into the ATP Top 100 for the first time in his career. In his next tournament, the Sarajevo Challenger, Gulbis emerged victorious in both the singles and doubles events.
In the first week of October, he won the Mons Challenger in Belgium (d. Kristof Vliegen) as the top seed, breaking into the AP Top 50 for the first time in his career and surpassing Juan Martin Del Potro as the highest-ranked player born in 1988.
Gulbis has played in three Davis Cup ties for Latvia this year, winning all seven of the rubbers in which he participated (4 singles; 3 doubles with Deniss Pavlovs). His participation in the tie against Monaco in September helped Latvia to qualify for the Europe/Africa Zone Group I tier of Davis Cup nations for the first time in its history.
Grand Slam debut
Gulbis announced his arrival on the Grand Slam stage in the 2007 French Open by defeating the British veteran, Tim Henman in straight sets to advance to the second round. It was heralded by the British Davis Cup captain, John Lloyd, as "... a brilliant performance from Gulbis, that is just pure and utter talent." Gulbis' run was halted in the second round by Spaniard Albert Montanes with a 1-6 2-6 6-1 6-7(3) defeat in a rain-interrupted match.
At Wimbledon, his second Grand Slam participation, Gulbis again was drawn to face Marcos Baghdatis in the first round. He succeeded in winning the first set off the tenth-seeded Cypriot before succumbing in four sets. Gulbis debuted in Grand Slam doubles by teaming up with Ivan Ljubicic, with whom he had reached the semi-finals of the 2007 Ordina Open.
At the 2007 U.S. Open, Gulbis upset the No. 30 seed, Potito Starace, in the first round and the No. 8 seed, Tommy Robredo, in the third round, winning by a convincing score of 6-1, 6-3, 6-2. In that match, Gulbis broke Robredo six times and had 39 winners to Robredo's seven. Gulbis' fine run was finally halted by former world Number 1, Carlos Moya, to whom he lost in four sets
At the first round of the 2008 Australian Open, Gulbis lost to Marat Safin 0–6, 4–6, 6–7. He reached the second round of the 2008 Pacific Life Open, where he lost a tight match to former Grand Slam finalist David Nalbandian with the score of 6–4, 4–6, 7–64. At one point he was up a break in the third set, having served out the previous game with 4 aces, but he eventually lost the match in the tiebreak. In the first round of the 2008 Miami Masters, he defeated Dominik Hrbatý, but in the second round met Nikolay Davydenko. After winning the first set 6-3, he lost the following two sets in tiebreaks.
His biggest result to date occurred when he reached the quarterfinals of the 2008 French Open. Through the tournament he beat Simon Greul, seventh seed James Blake, Nicolas Lapentti and home-favourite Michaël Llodra. In the quarterfinals he lost to the third seed Novak Djokovic in a tight match with the score line 5-7, 6(3)-7, 5-7.
In his next tournament, he reached the third round of the 2008 Queen's Club Championships, beating Kristof Vliegen and 12th seed Andreas Seppi. He lost to 6th seed Andy Murray with 7-5, 1-6, 4-6.
In the first round at Wimbledon, Gulbis defeated 6'10" American John Isner.he lost in the 2nd round to the 2nd seed and eventual champion Rafael Nadal with a score line of 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(2), 6-3. Other than Roger Federer, he was the only player to take a set off the eventual champion. In a post match interview, Nadal noted how difficult the return game against Gulbis' serve was, and that he felt Ernests was going to run away with the match if it wasn't for a rain delay that transpired.
Gulbis defeated Jarkko Nieminen, Arnaud Clément, and James Blake at the 2008 Cincinnati Masters but lost in the quarterfinal to #3 seed Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-4.
At the US Open, Gulbis defeated Thomas Johansson in the first round before losing to Andy Roddick in the second, (3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 7-5). It was his and Andy's birthday.