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By Chris Oddo

(February 13, 2013) -- If Ernests Gulbis ever gets tired of living up to everybody's expectations for him as a tennis player, there's bound to be a spot for him in politics as a leader of the medical marijuana movement (see video above for more on that).

But that's another story for another day. The 24-year-old Latvian is all about playing some no-holds-barred, high-quality tennis right now. "I didn't play Australia this year, I did longer preparation, I worked best as I ever did, so it's just natural that some results have to come," Gulbis said in an interview after his first-round victory in Rotterdam on Monday.

Gulbis hammered Robin Haase 6-2, 6-1 at the ABN Amro World Tennis tournament, and the qualifier will face Juan Martin del Potro on Thursday. 

Gulbis isn't concerned about other people's expectations for his tennis game, but he does seem eager to prove that his talents still exist. "I stopped paying attention to it," said Gulbis. "However it goes it goes. I'm here to prove to myself that I can make it, not to somebody else."

Gulbis, who went 17-18 last season and now owns a ranking of 132, believes that he's ready to climb the rankings ladder again. "I think I'm gonna make it this season -- back to top 20 for sure (Gulbis is a former World No. 21). I prepared well, and I quit a lot of stuff in my life," he said.

When pressed about what exactly he was that he quit, Gulbis, always forthcoming, was quick to answer: "Smoking, drinking, staying up late."


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