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Sexism row: Professional tennis no place for women, says Gulbis

Paris: Ernests Gulbis insists he has no regrets over a career which has seen him locked up in jail, label the big four as boring and be damned as a spoilt rich kid.

But the colourful 25-year-old, the son of one of Latvia's richest men and who once travelled to tournaments in a Lear jet, hasn't completely mellowed when he suggested Friday that pro tennis is no place for women.

Latvia's Ernests Gulbis celebrates his victory over Czech Republic's Radek Stepanek at the end of their French tennis Open third round match at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris on Friday. Pic/AFP

"Hopefully they will not pursue a professional tennis career," said Gulbis when asked if his two younger sisters might follow him into the business.

"Because for a woman, it's tough. I wouldn't like my sisters to become professional tennis players. It's a tough choice of life.

"A woman needs to enjoy life a little bit more. Needs to think about family, needs to think about kids. What kids you can think about until age of 27 if you're playing professional tennis, you know."

The remark is the latest in a series of outbursts which have followed Gulbis throughout his career.

The latest came on Friday when he reached the French Open fourth round, his first run to the last 16 of a major since he made the quarter-finals in Paris in 2008.

Next up is a possible clash with Roger Federer, one of the men who felt the sharp end of his tongue at Roland Garros in 2013 when he accused the 17-time major winner as well as Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray of boring the pants off tennis fans.

"I made a lot of bad decisions career?wise," admitted Gulbis.

There's been a few of those, most notably being jailed for a night in Sweden after being accused of soliciting a prostitute before losing his wallet when he took a midnight swim with a girl he had just met in Miami.

"But now I am jumping on the last train. I'm 25, so this is my last opportunity to be really successful. I think I have a good seven, eight more years to play in the top level."

Gulbis is now the world number 17 and made the French Open last 16 by seeing off 35-year-old Czech veteran Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 in a fractious Court One meeting, firing 19 aces and 45 winners.

Back in the big time after six years which saw his ranking slip to 159 in 2012, Gulbis says he probably would not have acted any differently if he had his time over again.

"I don't regret it at all, because I think in a way I'm in a better position. Maybe not as a tennis player but as a person. Because I have been through ups and downs," he said.

"Most of the guys who are on top now, they haven't been down a lot. They haven't gone from playing a quarter-final in a Grand Slam to asking for a wildcard in a Challenger."

Against Federer, who he has defeated once in their three meetings, Gulbis says he has a game plan already worked out.

"You don't need to be scared to do certain things against him, because most of the people they go on the court and they lose already the match before it has started," he said.

"I can tell you that's not gonna be the case with me."

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