Goran Ivanisevic Interview

Interview with Goran Ivanisevic
Hotel room in Trumbull, CT: actual transcript
16 August 1990

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Interviewer (Tina) - black
Goran - sage.

I'm going to call you a Yugoslavian teenage tennis sensation.
Oh, Jesus.

Is that okay?
It's perfect.

Good. How tall are you?
6'4"? 6'5"?

And the titles you hold?
I have only one. This year - Stuttgart.

I was going to ask you if you shave yet, but you shaved before dinner. Now, you were born in '72...
'71.

The tournament book says '72. Are you sure?
Yes, I'm sure!

OK, they made a mistake. So you are actually 18.
I'll be 19 next month.

Yeah, September -
September 13th.

-shhh! I would have remembered.
You cannot remember it!

Yes, I would have. September 13th.
OK. You are very good student.

I also just read you are one of the top earners on the tour.
Yeah, I know.

Well, I was wondering if you ever try to calculate it in dinars - I mean, being from country where the currency sometimes changes hourly, the concept of money must be very confusing to you.
No, I don't count the money. I don't care, you know?

Where does it all go?
It goes into my account, but it's not important to count how much I earn. It's not the point. I just need to play good. If I play good, the money's coming. But you know, it's nice to read that you have 1 million, six hundred thousand US [dollars]. It's a nice feeling.

Yeah, but haven't you spent some?
Well, I bought a car.

What make, what color?
Mercedes, blue-black. It's a very sporty car. It's going 240 kilometers per hour.

It's in Split?
No, it's in Monte Carlo, because I live there now.

Wow, already? 18, and you already have your Monte Carlo residence.
Yup.

Boris Becker "lives" there, too. Do you and Boris ever hang out?
Me and Boris - what kind of question is this?

Well, I wanted to ask how you get along off the court, because you and he already have a rivalry that's one of the most interesting in the sport. The impression one gets watching your matches is that Boris has a lot of respect for you, and that he genuinely likes you. Maybe he sees you as a younger version of himself.
Yeah. He was afraid of me, maybe. I beat him first in an exhibition, then I beat him in Paris, and I had a chance in the semi-finals of Wimbledon. If I beat him there, maybe he stop to play tennis! He was afraid of me, but maybe he's not anymore. Maybe he likes me more now.

Because he managed to beat you at Wimbledon, even though he was down a set and a break? That was a fun match to watch. Did you have fun playing it?
Yeah, I had a lot of fun. That's why I lost.

You were on the ground, you were biting your racket...
I was doing a striptease...

So someone already asked your story at dinner: you started playing when you were 7, you went to a tennis school, you started playing on the junior tour when you were 14.
Yeah, I was playing a lot of tournaments in Europe.

So did your family travel with you?
No. The coach always - there were a lot of players and he was traveling with us. And then I started to play the junior Grand Slams. I was number two junior.

Behind Nicolas Perreira.
Very good.

Do you like to travel so much? Honestly?
Yeah. What else to do?

Well, you're young, and it seems like you see the hotel rooms, you go play your matches, you see all the same people all the time.
Same people, same faces. In Europe I like it more, not so much in America.

You hate America, don't you.
No! But I like Europe much more. You are more free. It's fucking unbelievable here, you need to be 21 to go to the disco, to have a drink, showing your ID every two seconds. In Europe, nobody give a shit if you go to the disco, if you're gonna get drunk, if you're gonna drink all fucking day...

People here are uptight about teenage drinking and sex.
Ah, sex... In Europe they know me more, they watch what I'm doing. But here, nobody knows me, it's nice.

People who watch tennis know you.
Yeah, ok, maybe somebody's gonna recognize me in a disco, but in Europe, especially Germany....Here, I can't even go to the disco, I'm not 21!

They never ask in New York.
Come on, they ask everywhere.

In New York, you can do anything you want.
OK, you show me.

When you're finished at the US Open - woops -
"When I'm finished" - what is this?

I'm sorry. I mean, after you've won it...
That's better.

I'll take you out to show you. Nobody will care that you're not 21. What do you like about America?
Everything. And nothing. It's beautiful. Everyone's always running, jumping, it's crazy. It's a fast life. It's funny. In my hometown, everybody's moving so slow... And here, you can see a lot of things you can't see in Europe.

But that's just it - when you're here, what do you see? The tournament sites, the hotel rooms.
I can go to the city everyday if I like.

You've said that you used to be a very bad boy, but you're not anymore. I'm not sure if you meant on the court or off.
I was a troublemaker. I was kind of crazy guy, you know? I was throwing the racket, I was swearing, I was screaming. But now it's okay. Now I can control it.

Now you're doing the Andre Agassi.
What is this?

You know, he tries to make it fun on the court, he tries to laugh.
I don't give a shit about him.

I knew you wouldn't. He drives you crazy, right?
No, I don't hate him, why you ask that?

Because, as an American, he gets so much press, even though he's yet to come up with a big win. And the press is so much about his hair and clothing.
I don't know him, so I cannot say if he's nice guy.

Does anybody ever tell you that maybe you should be less rambunctious on the court?
Ram-bun-shus. What is this?

Sorry. That's a big word. Rambunctious.
Rambunctious.

You know, when you're on the court screaming and bouncing the ball on your head, and the audience is loving it.
What's wrong with this?

I just thought that maybe your coach would want you to be less emotional, that it might hurt your concentration.
Does anyone tell you you shouldn't bite your pen like that? I cannot be angel. No way. I need to do something: I'm gonna bounce the racket, I'm gonna play with the ball, I'm gonna scream. It's more fun. Sometimes, it's a nice feeling, when you're keeping it inside your heart, to give a scream, to let it out. It's a very nice feeling.

About your diet and training - are you strict about what you eat?
No. I eat anything.

Yeah, I saw that at dinner tonight, you ate a plate full of steak, no vegetables or anything. And you're so skinny for such a tall guy - you make me think of my Yugoslavian grandmother, saying "eat, eat" all the time.
And you're not skinny. You listened to her.

I'm in pretty good condition. I'm very strong.
You want to arm wrestle?

I would, but you're a lefty. It wouldn't be fair.
You're dangerous woman. Yeah, they say I need to be careful, no chocolate, no sugar, no salt, but I'm eating a lot of chocolate, I'm putting 10 spoons of sugar in my coffee -

You put so much sugar on your blueberries tonight, I couldn't believe my eyes!
I would have put more, but I was trying to be nice boy.