INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Rafael Nadal put an end to Ernests Gulbis’ 13-match win streak Wednesday, defeating the Latvian qualifier 4-6, 7-6. 7-5 in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open. Since losing in an ATP Challenger in Bergamo, Italy, at the beginning of February, Gulbis has only lost three times, each to a top-10 player (Tomas Berdych, Juan Martin del Potro and now Nadal). Asked whether he felt players feared his top-10 form, Gulbis laughed.
“Who’s gonna [say], ‘Hey, Ernests, I’m scared of you?’” he said. “No, I try to not pay attention to it. It’s tough to have good, nice relationships on the tour. Unfortunately, everybody is a little bit — they congratulate you but with a look in their eye that they don’t mean it.
“If I congratulate somebody, I mean it. Usually I don’t congratulate people. Honestly. Because if I don’t mean it why open my mouth? I say what I mean, and when I get not that in return, then I’m just — I do my stuff here, I eat, and then I spend as much time as possible outside of the facilities always, in every tournament.”
With his fourth-round performance at Indian Wells, Gulbis will rise to No. 55 on Monday. The tough news for him is that he may still be stuck in the qualifying tournament at the Sony Open next week in Miami. Though one main-draw wild card is still open, Gulbis isn’t confident he’ll get it.
“I can ask, but I don’t think somebody’s going to give a Latvian guy a wild card, let’s be honest,” Gulbis said with a shrug. “Doesn’t matter how good he plays.”