Gulbis wears out shoes, sends SOS

2 min

Melbourne (AFP)

Colourful Latvian Ernests Gulbis only brought one pair of shoes to the Australian Open, and he has quickly realised it was a big mistake.

The 31-year-old, who has had more than his fair share of troubles and controversies in an up-and-down career, is without a clothing sponsor and arrived with just a single pair of size 11.5 footwear.

He thought he would easily find more in Melbourne, but he has struggled and is running low.

"I thought that in Melbourne, during the Australian Open, it's going to be no problem at all. I called Adidas. They didn't have one model, not one, nothing," said Gulbis, the son of a wealthy investment banker and an actress mother.

"So I had to call like 10, not 10, but maybe at least seven other stores, and only two stores had my shoe size. So I think I bought the last two pairs."

According to the ATP, Gulbis wore out his first pair, and his second pair already has holes in them. Down to his last shoes, he sent an SOS to fellow Adidas wearers still going strong at the year's opening Grand Slam.

"I don't know. I don't know. Dominic (Thiem) is a smaller size. (Stefanos) Tsitsipas, I don't know what size he is. It's funny to even think about it. It's unbelievable," he told the governing body's website.

The laid-back Gulbis was once inside the world's top 10, but has tumbled to 256 after going 6-17 in tour-level matches last season.

A former French Open semi-finalist, he has struggled for consistency with shoulder, right wrist and calf problems plaguing him over recent seasons.

But Gulbis, who had to come through Australian Open qualifying, is now injury-free as he prepares for a third round clash with French 10th seed Gael Monfils on Saturday.

"It's all about practice, getting fit, and I had a good, really good two months of practice," he said.