AUSTRALIAN OPEN 1997
Round 4: Defeated Christian Rudd, 4-4, 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3
Interviewers - black
Goran - sage.
Goran, how brutal was it out there?
It was unbelievable! I never played in such a condition before. I thought yesterday was tough and I practise, and I say, "Gee, I hope that I don't play today," I said yesterday, and then today is even worse. And 11 o'clock, you know, three hours, it was tough, it was really, you know, in the fifth set you just hope the other guy is going to miss and you just try to put the - I didn't feel too much my legs, like three hours out there, I just felt good with the serve, otherwise just running, you don't know where you're going.
Which was worse, the heat or the wind?
It was tough, it was pretty windy and the ball was flying everywhere, but in the fifth set I didn't see the wind at all, you know, I was out of it, I don't know where I was, I was just hoping to finish and I didn't care, wind or not, I just tried to put some balls in and hopefully he is going to make a mistake and that's what happened at 4/3 in the fifth.
Is that the toughest conditions you've ever played in?
How special is it to win in such an extreme condition and being down 1 set to 2?
It's good, especially I prove to myself probably, he thought after I lost the third set, I'm going to maybe I give it up, because I served for the tiebreak and I made a double fault, 6/5, double fault; and then I had another set point at 7-6 in the tiebreak, so he thought, okay, he had me, and it was good for me that I broke him straight away in the fourth set, and then I started to play a little better. But it was a good fight. I didn't play good tennis but I fight very good and that's what pleased me today.
There were a lot of parts of the game where you guys didn't seem to be able to move to the ball very much, just serve it up and trudge across there?
That's right, that was pretty tactical. I tried to play a little bit tactics today; usually I don't use my tactics too much. But today I can say I was pretty good, I surprise myself. If you can serve good like I did today, I served good today and I was concentrating how to win my serve. When he serve, every time he was 30/0, I was just walking to save my energy for the next game to serve. And then, when I felt that I can break, I putting the gear up and then I try to run a little bit. And that was pretty smart, you know, and that is what was working today. Because it's too hot, you cannot try the whole game, otherwise you die; after 10 minutes you're dead.
Was Christian Ruud better than you expected?
I lost to him before and I knew it was going to be a tough match. So I didn't expect any easy match today.
Goran, did you ever think during the match that he was from Norway so he would be the first to collapse?
I was hoping he was going to collapse, but he was not collapsing, and I think, gee, what's going on here, I better start running and try to hang out there. So I did it, you know. But I saw him, he was tired, I was tired, and then you go for winners when you're so tired, and then he made four mistakes at 4/3 and that's what helped me, and then I served good.
How hot does it get in Croatia?
Not like this. Not one tournament it's hot like this. In the States it's humid, but here is very hot, it's a killer.
It would be snowing in Croatia now?
I would love to play a little bit on snow today. But now we are here, I'm not in Croatia and I have to play in this kind of weather.
Have you got any suggestions as to how the organisers of the tournament could try and allay the effects of the heat?
They can't do anything. I mean, they can make ball boy running with this fan after you, that's the only thing, but they cannot do anything. You just try to - doesn't matter how fit you are, it is impossible; even Muster will have problems in this heat. He is the fittest guy I ever saw in my life, but I think nobody can run for three hours in this kind of weather.
What about a break between sets?
Maybe on this kind of weather, maybe. I mean, there's a lot of things; maybe if it's 2 sets to 1, we come after two days, a little rest. There's a lot of things they can put in there, you know, which is okay. But it's okay like this, you know, it's fun, if you win.
Is there a point in this match, because it's so long and it's so hot, you feel like, "Whether I win or I lose, I want to finish it"?
Sometimes you think, you know, in the fifth set, I had the break and I let him come back with a couple of bad shots and I think, geez, "I had the match in my hands, now again I have to fight." I say, "Okay, now I want to finish." Then I said, "Gee, you're fighting already three hours, now you want to finish, take it easy." Then again, running, running, running. But then when you come to the fifth set, you have to try to run, you have to try to fight, if it's possible; if it's not, then it's bad luck
I noticed you switched your fan off, though, you didn't use the fan they had down at the courtside?
No, I didn't switch it off, it was working, but I don't know, I didn't notice, because I just put this towel on my neck, this cold towel, and it's so nice. Every time when I serve, I wait for the changeover to put the towel on. That's the best part of the match today.
At least with your game you don't have to run as much as someone like Muster.
That's helping, that's helping. I served almost 40 aces, 37, 38; a lot of double faults. That was good today, I hit a couple of aces, run to the changeover, put the towel on, and then again you have to run a little bit. It's fun, you know.
You were 0/40 down in the seventh game?
Yes, 3/3, 0/40 and then I hit four aces. That's nice
Did you think that did win the set for you and the match?
I think that won the match. But I mean, I was pretty good, I just was thinking about the towel, you know. It was a little too fast, 0/40, I missed three easy points, I said, "No wait, you have to turn around and then you're going to deserve the towel," so I hit four aces, then I broke after. He thought maybe he had me there, but when you hit four aces and you are 0/40 down, that's killing your confidence, after three hours playing.
What will you do now to recover your strength? Where will you go now?
Nowhere. I go back to the locker room, have a little massage and try to play less if possible tomorrow, half an hour, and then I have to be ready. Nobody is asking if you recover or not, you just have to - I'm going to have an even tougher match on Wednesday, whoever wins, Thomas or Jim, so it's another tough one.
Do you have any preference?
The same, it's going to be tough. If I play Thomas, I know I'm going to have to run again. If I play Jim, I'm going to have to run too, but at least he is going for winners more. Thomas likes to make you run, then sometimes he doesn't want to hit winners, he just makes you run, run, run, and then you trying to beg him, please, hit a winner. It's tough, you know, and he knows that he is fitter than everybody and he knows that he can run and he is a great player. So I don't care, you know, it's good that I'm in the quarters and whoever comes, if I want to win, I have to play good tennis, I mean much better than today.
Why did you need to get to 0/40 to hit four aces?
Why? I don't know why, it's more fun to hit four aces when you're 0/40.
It would be good if you started with four aces?
I would have love to, but I didn't, so I say, now, okay 0/40 and now I try to hit four aces and I did it.
If you had lost that game, would it have been difficult to get back in?
I mean, I would try, after three hours I wouldn't give up, it doesn't matter, but it would be tough, he will get confident more and he had a better side, 4/3, he serve with the wind, it will be tough, but still I will try, but after that game, I saw him a little bit down, I saw my chance and that was it, he missed four easy shots.
Goran, was the court very hot when you knelt on it at the end of the match?
Oh, Jesus, that was a mistake. When I went down, I went up after 10 seconds, you know, I was down, up, the surface was hot, I was almost burned, that was a mistake, but I was so tired, I had to fall down.
Have you ever been in a desert, a real one?
No, and I don't have any plans to go there.
My friend Rino Tommasi is describing you today as getting wise. Do you feel you're getting wise?
Maybe, if he says so.
Goran, you have a tournament in Zagreb; will you talk the players to come into it, have you started some conversations with them?
I think the field is pretty good in Zagreb, Enqvist, Krajicek, myself and Rosset, and now I got some top 10 players are asking for the wild cards.
Do they ask you?
Why me, I'm not - I'm just a player
No, you're one of the organisers?
I'm a little bit the organiser but they have to ask the tournament director.
Any thought of having your hair cut because of the heat?
No, it's good because it covers my neck, you know, otherwise if I shave my head, I will collapse after 10 games today, for sure. Sometimes it's good to have long hair, it helps.