PARIS (AP) — Ernests Gulbis is not ashamed at all about destroying rackets during matches.
Revels in it, in fact.
During his five-set victory over Roger Federer at the French Open on Sunday, Gulbis broke a racket by throwing it to the ground after losing a point. Just to make sure the job was done, Gulbis stepped on the racket and twisted the handle, completely mangling the thing and earning a warning from the chair umpire.
Then Gulbis, a 25-year-old from Latvia, walked over to the sideline and handed the racket to a boy sitting in the front row of the stands.
Playing in front of a packed house that was mostly pulling for Federer, Gulbis said, made him want to avoid riling up the crowd too much.
"I was trying not to show too much emotion except one broken racket," he said with a chuckle, "but one is nothing for me."
A reporter asked Gulbis whether he was setting a bad example by giving the fan that souvenir.
"I think it's a great gift. I would be really happy if a tennis player gives me his broken racket. He can refuse it if he doesn't want to take a gift. He can sit down and say, 'No, Ernests, I don't want it.' It's all about choices in life. We all have choices," Gulbis replied. "I can have a choice to break a racket and get a penalty. The kid can have the choice to take it or not. I think he did a great choice."
And with that, Gulbis' body shook as he laughed at his own words.
— Howard Fendrich, http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich
NO FRIENDS: Eugenie Bouchard has no wish to make friends on the tennis circuit. She thinks there's simply no point.
The 20-year-old Canadian was asked after reaching the French Open quarterfinals Sunday who her best friend on the WTA tour is — someone she could hang around with to do some sightseeing in Paris.
"Best friend on tour? I don't have one," Bouchard said. "I don't think the tennis tour is the place to have friends. For me it's all competition."
To the 18th-seeded Bouchard, palling around simply gets in the way of doing the job properly.
"I think it's important to just remember that we're going to play against each other in matches," she said. "It's not like we're teammates."
— Jerome Pugmire, http://twitter.com/jeromepugmire
French Open Watch follows tennis' clay-court Grand Slam tournament in Paris as seen by journalists from The Associated Press. It will be updated throughout the day.