17 August 2001
Ivanisevic reaches semis, but likely to miss Australian Open after surgery
Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic is all but certain he will miss the Australian Open in January to fully recover from pending shoulder surgery.
The 29-year-old Croatian, who outlasted Australian Patrick Rafter in five sets to claim a long-sought, career-topping Wimbledon title, has his eye on some additional tennis longevity.
To ensure that he's still a force to be reckoned with sometime in the next season, Ivanisevic said here Friday at the 800,000-dollar RCA Championships that he's planning to take an estimated four-to-10-week recovery period after the planned winter operation.
"I've been taking some painkillers, but I'm planning to have surgery at end of year," he said after rolling over Moroccan mate Younes El Aynaoui 7-5, 6-3 for a semi-final place, his first here since 1996. "I pray that everything will work out fine.
"The (left serving) arm still hasn't fallen off yet and it's not bothering me so much now."
Ivanisevic's next goal for this season is a place in the eight-man Sydney Masters Cup from Nov. 12-18 at the SuperDome. "I'm 95 percent into the Masters. I deserve it this year.
"I'd like to play there, you work for it all year. The eight best guys there, it's like a present. After that, then I'll have surgery."
Ivanisevic is planning to have the surgery in Berlin where former ATP trainer Alex Stober, now with Pete Sampras, said one of the best specialists in the world practises.
Medical advisers say the recovery period would be as short as a month but Ivanisevic doesn't want to push his luck.
"They say the shoulder is the most sensitive part to recover from. I depend a lot of my shoulder for my serve, I'd rather take 15 weeks than not long enough," he said.
"I have to be serious about this surgery, it should come straight after Sydney. I don't think I'll be at the Australian Open, I'll probably have to start in the spring."
Ivanisevic was joined in the semis by turnaround Russian Marat Safin, who has waited until the last possible moment to start whipping his sagging game into shape to defend his US Open championship.
The 21-year-old second seed defeated 1995 winner Thomas Enqvist of Sweden, the eighth seed, 7-5, 6-4, in their quarterfinal contest.
"I played very well today, I played smart," said Safin. "My confidence is coming back, I feel well on court. I'm out there playing tennis, I'm seeing good things happen."