Goran's Going For It - 1998
by Sandra Harwitt
Superstitions aren't 'stupidstitions' for Goran Ivanisevic, who never changes a routine as long as he remains alive in a tournament.
Into the Semi-Finals of Wimbledon via a 7-6 (12-10), 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (8-6) marathon victory over unseeded Jan Siemerink of the Netherlands, the No.14 seed Ivanisevic said he keeps things constant.
When a reporter noted that the bearded Ivanisevic is looking more and more like pictures depicting Jesus Christ, and inquired whether he will be shaving if he gets into the finals, Ivanisevic replied, "No. I never change anything during the tournament."
And that's not the only rituals that Ivanisevic is religiously observing during this Wimbledon fortnight.
"I have two (Croatian) songs which I listen to every day before I leave the house, and we have six showers in the locker room. So, each day I pick one and go like this around,"said Ivanisevic, indicating he rotates shower stalls.
A patient Ivanisevic doesn't go crazy if another player happens to be using the shower he's suppose to be using next in his ordered plan, saying, "Then I wait."
It's not a wonder that Ivanisevic -- a finalist here in 1992 and 1994 -- always plays matches that are well attended. He's different and he's entertaining.
A crafty southpaw, armed with a supersonic serve that can send opponents cowering, Ivanisevic is enjoying this Wimbledon more than any of the previous 11 he's played.
"I'm one of the veterans here," noted Ivanisevic, his hair pulled back off his face with a thin headband "I've been a lot of times here. Actually, it's most fun this year and I have fun. I'm winning, and it's great -- it's been great so far. I don't know how it's going to finish, but maybe this year is the year for me."
In order to reach a third career Wimbledon final, which would provide another opportunity for the Croatian to win a first Grand Slam title, Ivanisevic has to get by 1996 Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek in the semifinals. According to Ivanisevic, one shot will make the difference between winning and losing for the two power servers.
"So, it's going to be a question of returns tomorrow, that's for sure," said Ivanisevic. "Who is gong to hit more returns is going to win the match."
If Ivanisevic does win the Wimbledon trophy, it would mark the first time in the Open Era of tennis that a No. 14 seeded player has reigned victorious at a Grand Slam.
Ivanisevic isn't the only Croatian citizen making the home country proud. The Croatian soccer team is still in contention in the World Cup. Ivanisevic believes that if both he and the soccer team are successful, all of Croatia will be in a frenzy.
"It would be great," said Ivanisevic, if that could happen. "I think the whole country will be drunk for the rest of the year, including me and the rest of the team. We celebrate. I put rackets in the closet and just come (back) next year."