18 January 2000
Ivanisevic puts 1999 - and Pioline - behind him
Jan. 18, Melbourne, Goran Ivanisevic is not a measured man. He does not follow rules, he does not keep his emotions in check, he does not consider himself mentally stable.
But today he took precisely three hours to dispense of Cedric Pioline. The final set alone was exactly one hour.
The 13th seed from France made matters difficult for the Croat, just the conditions in which Ivanisevic thrives.
The rain-delayed five-set battle exacerbated that Ivanisevic felt 'very badly' coming into the Australian Open.
The 28-year-old comes off 'a very bad year' in which his ranking plummeted to a record-low of No. 62 -- his highest year-end ranking being No. 4. His recollection of 1999: 'I hurt my back. I came back and lost a couple of matches badly. I was just losing.
'Every week was worse and worse. Actually, Wimbledon was okay [finished 4th Round], but it's tough when you lose five, six weeks (in the) first round. You lose Monday, practice 'til Sunday. A few weeks (and) you go crazy. You hope you will be better, but when Monday comes you can't put a ball in the court. So it was a bad year.'
'It's very tough to repeat that year,' he went on. 'If I repeat it then I should get an award.'
A dose of pure Ivo.
'I mean (I feel) actually relaxed because when you play like [expletive] for one year and then you just hope that the year ends -- and the year starts again and you continue.'
It rolled on today with a 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, 1-6, 9-7 win over Pioline. The match, like its victor, was an anomaly in that Pioline won 13 more points and a better first-serve percentage (61 to 47) than Ivanisevic.
The hard-earned win places him against Spain's Francisco Clavet, who Ivanisevic calls 'a tough guy.'
'This court is better for me because it's fast. But he is a tough opponent, I can lose to him,' he said. 'I can do well, but I can also lose.'
Ever the realist.
Ivo on film: Don't see Sleepy Hollow, starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci. 'It was a disaster,' Ivanisevic reported. 'I went out of the cinema (and) nobody was moving -- everybody was in shock...Terrible.' Ivo on the significance of his almost two-year-old tattoo of a shark, crucifix and rose: 'Cross is cross and rose is like love and shark is mean.
'I am mean, you know? I said that already 50 million times.'