Gulbis courting extra attention after fine run

ROME - Ernests Gulbis came within a whisker of dethroning clay king Rafael Nadal at the Rome Masters and then revealed it is not just on the court that he is getting attention.

ROME - Ernests Gulbis came within a whisker of dethroning clay king Rafael Nadal at the Rome Masters and then revealed it is not just on the court that he is getting attention.

The Latvian 21-year-old was watched by Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova, just a day after Viktoria Azarenka of Belarus was courtside to take in his game.

And they cannot have failed to have been impressed with the way he played against Nadal, before going down 6-43-66-4 in Saturday's semifinals.

But the man who openly admits to enjoying the trappings of his fame more than the hard grind needed to earn it, revealed he is now looking forward to exploiting his position.

"I'm becoming popular with the girls," he joked.

"But Vickie is just an old friend and I think she likes the way I'm playing. I think she might want to learn something from me. She's a great girl."

Gulbis, who knocked out world No 1 Roger Federer in the second round, floats through life with the air of a man who has everything.

Good looking and talented, he also comes from a wealthy family which supported his bid to become a professional. And he has no troubles admitting to the head-start he's had in life.

"Basically, my father does nothing right now. He travels with me and has fun. My mother, she does nothing, she just stays at home and watches my tennis matches.

"My sisters play tennis but I don't know why," he said. - Sapa-AFP

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