AUSTRALIAN OPEN 1997
Round 2: Defeated Karol Kucera, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4
Interviewers - black
Goran - sage.
Goran, that sort of performance must give you a lot of confidence. That was a really good match?
Yes, I think it's probably the best match I've ever played here. I don't know what I could do better today; I mean, I served great when I needed, I hit those forehands, backhands, I kept coming in, everything, I returned great. So, I mean, I am confident but, you know, I have to keep up like this. I know that it's not possible to play two weeks like this, so now I have to find from after this match, go next match and play pretty badly, like I did last year and turned around, so I have to find the limits somewhere. But I think this year is different, I'm much more focussed, I'm more concentrated and I believe I can do better than ever here.
It must worry, you, does it, that lack of consistency, Goran, when you have matches in your keeping and you let them slide?
Yes, sometimes. But now I learn, that changed, because last year I played good in the States on hardcourt and I proved to myself I can play on those kind of courts, and this is pretty similar. So I think in my mind I believe I can do well. It's pretty same, the court, I'm playing good tennis and just hopefully I will be good consistently for these two weeks. Still one more match to survive this week and then, if I do, it's another tournament, another week, completely different thing.
210 kilometres an hour, one of your serves towards the end of the match, so the further the match went the better you were going?
Yes, I was really serving great, especially the serve, 210 was with the wind, so that was - but it was on the break point, you know; it is not easy to reach 210 on the break point. Every time I was a break point down, I hit the first serve in. The second and third sets I just played, I was hitting the forehand, I was not scared to hit the ball; and even with the backhand, usually I push sometimes when I'm not confident, I'm not sure, but today I was just hitting the ball, it went in; and hopefully at least 50 per cent is going to stay like that Saturday.
What do you believe the turn around in your game has been, that you're more consistent now? Any particular facet of the game that you've been concentrating on improving?
They always think, you know, that if I don't put my first serve in, that they have a chance, because they say, he's from the back, he's not playing a great game. But I proved today, I didn't come so many times to the net, so I can play from the back. I'm having more fun and I'm getting older. I see those guys in the second, third round, they are all 20, 19, 18; the guy in the first round was 15 years old. I'm not so young any more when I see all these guys. So I have a lot of Australian Opens behind me, so I'm finding how to play and hopefully I can do that.
Did you actually surprise yourself today with the way you went?
Yes, I was surprised. First when I came in, it was huge, you know, when you come to the centre court. I didn't practice this year on the centre court, first time you come - okay, I play before, but every year is different. And it was really cold the first couple of games, but I started good with the break and that helped me a little bit, and then I was surprised, I was just hitting the ball. I felt that it was a good day today.
You said you hit that 210 kilometres with the wind. Was the wind an influence on your game out there tonight?
No, I mean you just try to forget everything; when you play good, you don't think about things, you just think how to win the point, how to hit the forehand and backhand. I didn't care, with the wind, without, against the wind, how to serve, I just throw the ball, hit the ball and the ball is going.
You often say that you play your best when you don't think about it, just throw it up. Do you think the key now is to hold on to that feeling?
It's not always easy to not think about it when you're break point down in something close, you have to think. But it's okay like this, you know. I mean,this is a tough sport and if you want to win this tournament, you have to, like I said, you have to play for two weeks good. So it's good. I didn't think too much today, I just tried to play my game. Even I said, you know, every year I come here with a lot of expectations and then I play good a couple of rounds and then Saturday I play a different game, you know, I want to do something I usually don't do, then I get scared. So this year I decided, okay, you try to give your best, try to play tennis like you know and if somebody beats you, he's too good, but try to fight, even when you're 2-0 sets down and everything is possible.
In the first set, the timing, the speeds were 145, 150, then all of a sudden it went up by about 50 kilometres. Is there any reason for that or do you think the machine wasn't working?
No. I think with the wind when I serve 210, I was serving always 190, 200, 199. But on the other side, against the wind I couldn't hit harder, because it's a little wind and little bit balls. Like I said, they are a little different from last year, and especially you see that in the rallies, you hit the ball, hit, hit. I hit today five or six forehands in a row hard as I can and the ball is always coming back. I mean, he's fast, but not unbelievably fast. So these balls are a little bit dead and you have to work more than usually.
Is that good or bad for you?
Today it was great
It means you have to be a bit more patient though, which is a slight problem?
Yes. I can be patient, I can play attack, I can be patient; just depends how I wake up in the morning. This morning I wake up good, everything was fine. I felt it, you know; sometimes you feel you can play good and you play good.
You noticed the speed on the machine there. Does that play on your mind at all, the speed of your serve?
Sometimes I go for it. I'm just curious how fast I can hit, you know, and usually when you go for the big one it's always 180, 190 and your arm is falling apart. And then sometimes you just go for it, just like, "Okay, I'm going to hit medium serve" and then you hit 205, you know. But this one, everything was nice, the motion was nice, I throw the ball nice and I just timed it good and it went in, you know, 210. So now I'm, I think - I don't know, last time was 207 the record. I think this is the record.
With a softer ball as well?
They cannot do anything to me, you know. They can even play with a water ball, I'm always going to hit 180 at least, you know. So it's okay with me, they can do whatever they want. I'm winning so I'm happy and I am hitting my aces when I need it, that's important.
Do you think it's aimed at you, to perhaps slow your serve down? These so-called purported moves to make the balls softer, the courts slower, do you think - you are not paranoid, I know, but do you think it's aimed at you?
They are always talking about me. They just - when I'm in the tournament then tennis is bad, I'm killing the tennis, this is not tennis, it's only serving. Once I'm out of the tournament, everybody happy, you know, "Oh, wonderful tennis." Sometimes I listening to these commentators, when they are talking; that's ridiculous, you know. In Hannover, for example, you have Sampras, Becker, myself and Krajicek in the semifinals, you know, four big servers. So I lost and the final was great men. But again you have maybe two best servers in the game, me and Boris and Sampras, and this comment, they say, "What tennis, great tennis." Even if they hit 10 aces in a row, it's great tennis, but when I hit two aces, it's terrible tennis, they slow the court, they should kick me out, they should have one serve, all these kinds of things. What's wrong with those guys? So now, they are still going to complain, I'm still in the tournament.