Goran Ivanisevic Article

Croatian's comic timing is as sharp as ever.


LONDON, Goran Ivanisevic's timing may be a little off kilter these days as the three-time Wimbledon finalist sinks lower in the world rankings, but the Croatian's comic timing is as sharp as ever.

Ivanisevic, 29, finished five of the past 10 years having served more aces than any other player and his dead-pan deliveries have always been as lethal as his swinging, left-handed serve.

Despite dropping to a lowly 115 in the rankings, though, Ivanisevic - who has been awarded a wildcard into this week's $3.4 million Ericsson Open in Miami - is still a top seed in the wisecrack stakes.

Looking back over a 14-year career, which has seen him amass 21 titles and almost $19 million in prize money, the volatile Croatian remembers most fondly the rackets he has smashed.

"I won lot of tournaments...I beat everybody... I broke most rackets on the tour by far," he said recently at the Masters tournament in Indian Wells, Calif.

"My fines? I pay more fines than some guys' career prize money on the tour.

"The guy who is making rackets for me is not busy any more but now (Marat) Safin has come along...the next guy after me.

"He's good," he said of the world No. 2. "I like the way he is. He has a personality - I think he throws the racket with emotion ... that is how you should throw the racket."

Ivanisevic has noticed some differences in playing smaller tournaments, such as the Heilbronn Challenger in January.

"When you take the practice balls, you have to give $10, if you don't give the balls back, they take your $10," he said. "You can't get a towel, only if you play a match. It's pretty low. But it is the best-organized challenger, was really great. It's like a wake-up call. But it's fun. Every day I give my $10, I give the ball back."

While other players employ dietitians to design and monitor high-carbohydrate diets and energy-efficient eating patterns, Ivanisevic claims to have just one rule.

Eat meat.

"No, I can't survive without meat," he said. "If I die I die like a man eating meat," he added, warming to his theme.

"I have to have meat at least five times a week... I can't change my diet.

"I don't eat cucumber sandwiches because I am not like that - I'm going to eat a nice steak.

"Hopefully I don't get mad-cow disease... maybe I've got it already. Who knows? I'm still alive."