Near misses becoming laughing matter for Ivanisevic - 1998
By DONNA TOMMELLEO Associated Press Writer
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - The summer of his discontent nearly over, Goran Ivanisevic finds that laughter comes a bit easier these days.
The talented and temperamental left-hander, winner of 21 singles titles, comes to Flushing Meadow this week as the 14th seed. He's still searching for his first Grand Slam title and still smarting somewhat from another Wimbledon finals loss.
Last week, he failed in his fifth attempt to win a tournament on U.S. soil when he lost in the finals of the Pilot Pen International, dropping a three-set decision to Karol Kucera, of Slovakia.
He has two options, he said, as he prepares mentally for the $14 million U.S. Open.
``To think again or start to laugh,'' Ivanisevic said. ``If I just now think about Wimbledon and (Pilot Pen), then I am going to become crazy. So better laugh and have fun.''
He wasn't having much fun earlier this summer.
His five-set loss to Pete Sampras in July was his third defeat in a Wimbledon final. The hard-serving Croat lost a five-setter to Andre Agassi in 1992 and two years later fell in straight sets again to Sampras.
Against Kucera, his antics ranged from angry to amusing when close calls went against him or he missed easy winners. At various times, he glared at line judge for several seconds, ripped his shirt open in frustration, threw his racket and climbed into the empty umpire's chair after the match to watch the award ceremony.
This week, he didn't make it out of the first round of the Hamlet Cup in Commack, N.Y.
Fueling his frustration has been a chronic sore left shoulder, made tender from a decade of dominating serves. Ivanisevic's 130-plus mph serves has been his calling card for years. In 1996, he broke his own record by firing 1,477 aces on the ATP Tour. He said the shoulder is a concern going into the five-set competition of the U.S. Open.
``I have to feel good, just hope my shoulder is going to be fine,'' he said. ``You have to win three sets. It can be five sets and it is not easy to play, but my form is fine.''
Ivanisevic admits he has to sometimes push himself to do daily exercises for the shoulder but knows it is necessary.
``I am not 21 anymore. I am going to be 27 pretty soon, and I have to do it if I want to play another couple years of tennis,'' he said.
With maturity also comes mellowing and the ability to enjoy himself even when he fights with the officials, he said.
``Maybe I take too serious these losses and I just ... have to have fun. Maybe it is going to help. I try new strategy from now,'' Ivanisevic said. ``Better to laugh than cry.''