Press salutes Goran's Wimbledon exit
26 June 2004
Croatian newspapers bid a fond farewell to former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic, defeated by Australian Lleyton Hewitt in the third round of the championship on Friday.
They are full of praise about his achievements.
"A farewell to a great player," says a headline in the Rijeka-based Novi list.
"One of the greatest Croatian tennis players of all times became a legend on Friday," Vecernji list declares.
"It was one of the greatest days in Croatia's tennis history," Slobodna Dalmacija, based in Ivanisevic's hometown of Split, says.
"Only the days which brought us the Grand Slam and Roland Garros victories before were better than this Friday," it continues.
But Friday was "special in its own right", the paper adds, noting that Croatian player Karolina Sprem also beat Venus Williams.
Several papers agree that Wimbledon's Centre Court was a perfect setting for the last game.
"All he wanted was Centre Court, a formidable opponent and a career end he deserves. Well, he got all three of them in his last ever match at Wimbledon," Vecernji list says.
The paper is full of praise for Lleyton Hewitt's "brilliant performance" but says it was Ivanisevic who stole the show.
"Everything was ready for a big goodbye. The 13,000 crowd wanted to share with him one last time the magic of Centre Court," it says.
"The event was not lacking in symbolism," it continues, reminding the readers that Ivanisevic beat another Australian, Pat Rafter, on the court when he won his only Grand Slam event in 2001. "Both his finest moment and his defeat were played on the same court," the paper says.
Not even Pete Sampras, whom the paper describes as "the greatest player of all time", received such a send-off, Vecernji list says, reminding its readers that such ovations are normally reserved "only at the end of the tournament and only for the winner".
"Only Ivanisevic could have made such a spectacle of leaving," it says.
"Goran walked to his seat, put on his Croatian No 10 football shirt, waved to the crowd and walked off into history."