Goran and Grosjean Go the Distance
14 January 2002
by Sudesh Arudpragasam
No.5 seed Sebastien Grosjean and No.10 seed Goran Ivanisevic were made to work hard for their victories during Day One of the 2002 Australian Open with both men being stretched to four sets.
Ivanisevic is coming off a memorable 2001. An epic battle at Wimbledon with Australian Patrick Rafter saw him become the second lowest ranked player and first ever wildcard to win a Grand Slam. During the year he improved his ATP ranking from No.129 to No.12, earning him a spot in the Tennis Masters Cup in Sydney, and also helped Croatia regain its place in the World Group of the Davis Cup. To top it all off, he completed nine days of compulsory Croatian military service.
Ivanisevic came into today's match with Czech Martin Damm after a second round exit in Doha and a quarter final loss to Greg Rusedski in Auckland. To make things harder for the big serving Croatian, he was also carrying a shoulder injury, for which he opted against surgery so as to prolong his tennis career for a further two years.
Ivanisevic began slowly against Damm, losing the first set 4-6 in under 30 minutes before taking the second 7-5. He took the third in a tie break before turning on the heat to win the match 6-4 in the fourth.
"I had a tough match today, three hours and in the beginning it was very, very sore, very slow." he said. "But it got better. As soon as I step on the court I just try to play tennis and don't find excuses. You know, I just lost because I lost, not because my arm was sore. Tomorrow it is going to be sore, but tomorrow I don't play!"
Many thought that the likeable Croatian would not return to Melbourne. Last year he was eliminated in the first round of qualifying, his tournament over before it had even begun. However Goran is back and believes he is making progress.
"Last year I was on Court 15. It took me ten minutes just to find it. This year I was on centre court. I am moving up. Next year? Who knows? Maybe I'll play on the MCG!"
2001 Australian semi finalist Sebastien Grosjean was another of the men's seeds to move through to the second round with a four set victory over Spain's Juan Balcells.
The Frenchman took the first set 6-2, but was given a taste of his own medicine when the Spaniard took the second with an identical scoreline. It was a gripping encounter from that point on with neither player able to gain the upper hand. The match was eventually decided by tie breaks with the French Davis Cup hero prevailing 6-2 2-6 7-6(5) 7-6(2) in just over three hours.