Ernests Gulbis not thrilled being used as guinea pig for new rules like shot clock - Roland Garros diary

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  • An on-court shot clock counting down from 25 seconds between points was tested during the qualifying rounds at Roland Garros last week and will be introduced to the main at the US Open this summer.

    The idea is to strictly enforce the rule of the time limit for the server, which is often abused by many players.

    I watched a few qualifying matches in Paris and didn’t witness any issues with it and was curious to hear the thoughts of some of the players who had the shot clock on court for their clashes.

    Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis didn’t mind the presence of the shot clock, but has thoughts on such new rules being tested on a specific set of players rather than across the board.

    “I like when they have the same rules for qualifying and main draw. I don’t like it when they try to test something on the weaker players, on the worse… I don’t know. If they have a rule, they have a rule. It’s the same for everybody and I don’t like when they change that,” said Gulbis after his opening round win over Gilles Muller on Monday in Paris.

  • Ernests Gulbis interview: Latvian happy to fly solo as he looks to end career on his own terms

  • “I don’t mind any of these rules, I just don’t like it when somehow qualifiers or somehow the weaker tournaments are being pushed less, it’s a hard enough life for them.”

    Ernests Gulbis. Man of the People.

    Egypt’s Mohamed Safwat, who contesting the qualifying rounds at the French Open, found the shot clock helpful, but is not too keen on the one-minute limit before the coin toss.

    “The shot clock doesn’t bother me, it’s a reference. But I didn’t like that one minute at the beginning. It’s so stressful. When you enter the court, you have one minute to be ready. If you exceed the one minute, you pay a fine. At the US Open, the fine was $500. It’s too much,” said the Egyptian.

    “I was checking the shot clock from time to time. It didn’t distract me. The tempo starts to be faster.

    “My opponent Henri Laaksonen, I didn’t understand what he was doing. He was just standing looking at the clock. He’s stand there at 17 seconds or something, and we’re waiting for seven, 10 seconds, and then he serves.”


    Elsewhere, Naomi Osaka was her typical, entertaining self in the press conference room after her opening round victory over Sofia Kenin.

    A GQ article about Osaka was recently published with the title describing her as ‘The coolest thing in tennis’.

    Osaka, a shy, quirky character with the best one-liners, does not necessarily agree with that headline.

    “That’s so embarrassing,” she said when I asked her about it. I think if they wanted to title it something, they should have titled it the ‘most awkward person in tennis’.

    “If that’s how they feel, then I’ll take it, but I don’t think – with that title, I don’t think I’m that person.”