Ernests Gulbis is having a surprisingly smooth run through the field at the St. Petersburg Open this week and he's into the semifinals for the first time since he won Delray Beach in February. But that doesn't mean the 36th-ranked Latvian has to make it a controversy-free run.
Gulbis was on his way to an easy 6-1, 6-2 win over No. 62 Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarterfinals, when Bautista Agut got angry because of the amount of noise coming from Gulbis's shoes in the middle of his service motion. Down 2-4, 15-40, the Spaniard took it up directly with Gulbis, who refused to back down or apologize.
"I do what I want to do," Gulbis shouted back. "You are moving your arms all the time and I don't say nothing."
As Bautista Agut moved to serve the next point, Gulbis looked to squeak his shoes on purpose, earning himself a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct. Not that he would admit it. With a big grin on his face, he asked for clarification as to why he received a code violation. "You know why," the umpire said, to which he responded, "B-----d."
Gulbis went on to get the break and Bautista Agut threw his racket in anger. Gulbis went on to win and had this to say after the match: “My opponent behaved like a spoiled princess."
Just another day in the life of Ernests Gulbis.
The incident did recall a similar one between Ana Ivanovic and Daniela Hantuchova during the semifinals of the 2008 Australian Open. Then it was Ivanovic's unintentional shoe squeaking that put off Hantuchova, who blew a 6-0, 2-0 lead to lose 0-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Maybe it's something about Adidas shoes? Novak Djokovic (who is sponsored by Uniqlo but still wears Adidas) and Andy Murray can make quite a bit of noise on hard courts as well.