AUSTRALIAN OPEN 1997
Round 1: Defeated Ben Ellwood.....6-2, 7-5, 6-3
Interviewers - black
Goran - sage.
There has been a lot of talk about the quality of the balls here; how do you find them?
They are a little bit softer than last year. The sound is not the same and I think it's slower, but anyway, you know, it's already, the tournament has started, so it's no time to complain. It's not worth it to complain anymore, it's just slower and I don't know why they are doing that. It is important that I won my first round and I hope that I can play well for the tournament.
Pete Sampras was saying that the heaviness of the balls, the slower balls, the softness of the balls, was making his arm a little bit tired, and he hasn't had any arm injuries for some time. He ices it after each match, and it comes up after three or four days. Are you having to take any precautions because of the balls as well, and are you feeling sore in the arm, tired in the arm as a result?
Not yet, but I will have to have other matches, and with those soft balls, you know, sometimes you try to force the serve more than usually because you hit hard as you can and it's going 170, 180, and then you say, "What's going on here?" So you try to hit even harder, and then you can have easily shoulder problems, so no I don't have the problems yet, but hopefully I'm not going to have it.
Does the condition of the ball take - it obviously disadvantages the big hitters like yourself to some extent, but does that mean it then favours somebody like Chang much more than it does for you guys?
It is. I don't know why they are doing this. They are always talking about how the game is going fast, how it's - they are slowing everything. They are slowing - they even put on clay courts slow balls. They put indoor slow balls, they put everywhere slow balls, so I don't know what they are doing with that, what they are trying to do. In ten, five years, you are going to watch in men's tennis, women's tennis; they are going to play together because of these balls.
You will be able to play mixed doubles?
Yeah. If I can hit my 10 or 15 aces per match I am still going to be happy. Whatever balls they put, I always have an answer for these balls.
But as far as the players here that are likely to benefit from those sorts of conditions, would Chang be a prime example of that?
It doesn't matter, he's a good player, whatever balls you put to him, whatever court. He's No. 2 in the world, so he didn't come there with the changing of the balls. He is one of the best players, that's why he's tough to beat with any balls, especially with these ones.
What about your own preparation, Goran, coming into this year?
It's okay. Last year I was maybe playing a little bit better than this year, and I didn't do anything here, so I'm not going to talk too much about preparation. I just won my first round, then I have second round this year. Hopefully I can play better than today. Today's conditions were not easy, very windy, but I'm there and hitting the ball okay and still hit some aces with these balls.
Goran, you are a little bit unpredictable. Do you feel you are getting a little bit closer to maybe winning a tournament like this or one of the other Slams?
It's two weeks, you know, you never know with me. Like you say, I have to keep my mind for two weeks with this wind and sometimes it's not easy. Twice I was in the final, obviously I couldn't produce my best tennis in the final, but still I achieved the finals, so hopefully I can get a third chance. I don't know when, where, so I'm trying here, and I think I always go for it so we'll see how predictable or unpredictable I'm going to be here.
You made the finals twice at Wimbledon; are you trying to figure out why that happened and make it the same somewhere else?
Yeah. I had chances at the US Open last year, semifinals, I could have turned that match against Pete in the semis pretty easily, but I didn't. So my best result here, I got to quarter finals twice, so hopefully I can beat that and do something. I don't know when, but I am trying.
How disappointing was last week in Sydney?
It's okay. I mean, I had my chances, I didn't do it, and it's not a great disappointment. It was good preparation for this week, the wind last week. I learned how to play on wind last week so today was pretty easy to play. It was nice, and a couple of matches, I was able to prepare well.
How hot was it out there? You look a little bit --
It was okay, it was very nice to play.