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Gulbis bows out but makes his mark with parting shots

LONDON (Reuters) - From vampires to gambling and fine art, Ernests Gulbis offered a bizarre insight into the life of a millionaire Latvian tennis star during his brief Wimbledon challenge, which ended with a second-round defeat by Sergiy Stakhovsky on Wednesday.

The French Open semi-finalist may not have delivered on the court this week, falling 6-4 6-3 7-6 against the Ukrainian who accounted for Roger Federer at the same stage last year, but the world No.10 lived up his billing as one of the biggest personalities off it.

The 25-year-old started his post-match press call by angrily denying reports that he gambled away all of his French Open earnings at a blackjack table.

"People try to get words out of context, and sometimes they even dream something together. Of course I went to play blackjack, but there was no word how much I won or how much I lost," he said, adding that he had joked in a one-on-one interview that he had lost "a lot".

"Next day in Latvia, they say I lost all my winnings. My mother sent me a message asking (if) maybe I'm a little bit crazy, but I'm not stupid."

The 12th seed's forthright exchange with reporters came two days after another enlightening press conference, at which he misheard a question about umpires and proceeded to talk about vampires as metaphor for people he believes to be sucking energy out of the game. [ID:nL4N0P43YJ]

Asked whether his comments had received attention in the locker room, Gulbis joked that he had no friends on tour.

However, former women’s world No.1 Victoria Azarenka revealed on Tuesday that she and Gulbis are good friends whodiscuss fine art - a claim the Latvian says is only half the story.

"She didn't tell you how she lost to me at table tennis?" he joked. "She bragged all evening about how good she is, but then I showed her who is the true table tennis champion."

And the fine art?

"We just touched the subject," Gulbis said. "We have a lot more interesting stuff to discuss, but it's not for the press."

(Reporting by Sam Holden; Editing by David Goodman)

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