Tennis: Ernests Gulbis discusses life as a low-ranked player on the ATP Tour

Ernests Gulbis in action at the 2016 French Open. Photo / Getty Images
Ernests Gulbis in action at the 2016 French Open. Photo / Getty Images

The professional tennis circuit looks pretty perfect from the top.

Underneath, it's unforgiving.

Latvian one-hit wonder Ernests Gulbis spoke out following his first-round victory over Italian Andreas Seppi about the preferential treatment enjoyed by the world's top-ranked players.

The controversial world No. 80 has known the comforts of being a top 10-ranked star on the ATP Tour - but not any more.

The gap is wider than you might think.

Gulbis, known as the ATP Tour's superbrat, says the way tennis officials and tournament organisers treat low-ranked players is unjust.

"It's such a different world when you're playing well, when everybody wants you in their tournaments, when everybody puts you on the good courts, when everybody tries to please you," Gulbis told Sport360.com.

"Two years ago I played semi-finals here, and this year, players who play on Court 18 they've been treated like s***.

"I asked, 'Is it a nice court for the match?' So they said, 'No, go on the court.' The coaching staff doesn't even have a spot to sit to watch the match.

"I feel a little bit disrespected because everybody goes out there, they put out their best, we have to play in snow, like in Munich, you have to play in cold weather, hot weather, it doesn't matter, nobody cares.

"It's definitely not a democratic attitude at all."

Gulbis won his first-round match on court 18 and has his second-round match against Portugal's Joao Sousa was scheduled for Court 17 on Thursday night (AEST).

The 27-year-old, who has amassed $8 million in career prize money, famously defeated Roger Federer at the 2014 French Open before losing to Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.

He was supposed to become tennis' next big thing.

Now he finds himself campaigning for better treatment for all the players fighting for a meaningful ATP Tour ranking.

"People in my situation have to beg for practice courts to get a court alone for one hour anytime during the day," he said.

"And then you see seeded players who are there for two hours alone with a coach. How can you compete? We have one hour with four people on court against a guy who has prepared well, everything perfect.

"I don't know how the system works. Are we living in a democracy where everybody is the same or how does it work?

If somebody explains this to me then I will understand then maybe when I reach top 10 again then I will act accordingly. But I don't want to do it."

The former world No. 10 says the sport's "brown-nosing" culture is part of the reason he didn't appreciate how good he had it earlier in his career when he first burst onto the scene as a French Open quarter-finalist in 2008.

"When you start young, everything goes your way, you don't really notice that everyone is kissing your a*** for no reason at all, just because you're a good tennis player and then you supposedly live all your life and you expect brown-nosing from people," he said.

Including his win over Seppi, Gulbis is 5-10 (win-loss) on the ATP Tour this year with no signs suggesting he is beginning to overcome the shoulder and wrist injuries that have hampered his performance for more than 18 months.

- news.com.au

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