May 28, 2016 / 7:52 PM / a year ago

Latvia's Gulbis calls Olympics 'tennis tourism'

PARIS (Reuters) - Latvia’s former world number 10 Ernests Gulbis will not be going to this year’s Rio Olympics as a “tennis tourist” saying he has no real interest in the playing for medals at the Games.

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros - Latvia's Ernests Gulbis v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - Paris, France - 28/05/16. Gulbis returns a shot. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

Gulbis, will move higher than his current ranking of 80th after making the second week of the French Open, but told reporters on Saturday he was not eligible having not played the required amount of Davis Cup ties for his country in the build-up.

“They have this rule that you have to play certain amount of Davis Cups, and unfortunately I didn’t play,” the 27-year-old former French Open semi-finalist said.

”That was my choice. That was a choice based on my specific relationship also with the Latvian tennis federation.

“Also I really don’t like that in Olympic Games there is no points and no prize money. It’s a little bit like tennis tourism, from my side.”

Several players have said they will not play at this year’s Olympics, where Britain’s Andy Murray will try to defend his title. Austrian Dominic Thiem, American John Isner and Spain’s Feliciano Lopez have said they will miss it.

Gulbis played in the Beijing Olympics but said the lack of ranking points and prize money meant he would rather concentrate on his individual career.

He also said he felt under no obligation to represent the Latvian federation, saying players from ‘bigger’ countries get more help in their careers.

“I did represent my country enough. I did it already for last 10 years,” he said.

“I used to pay for my own flights to Davis Cup. I used to pay always for my own courts. So it was always coming out of my pocket. That’s the difference.”

Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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