Goran Ivanisevic - The King of Aces - 1998
In 1997, he served 1,048 aces.
In Wimbledon, Goran Ivanisevic closely missed his first Grand Slam title. But Pete Sampras needed five sets to defeat the tall man from Croatia.
In Croatia, Goran Ivanisevic is a national hero. Since 1991, the resident of Split ranks among the world's top tennis players. So far he has collected 20 singles titles in his career. In 1996 and 1997 he won his home tournament in Zagreb.
Even though he has powerful groundstrokes, a good volley and an impressive touch, it is his service for which he is better known.
A short look at the statistics helps to explain this: In 1997, Ivanisevic served 1,048 aces, an average of 14.8 per match. He is clearly ahead of Richard Krajicek, Greg Rusedski and Mark Philippoussis: Only he broke the magic barrier of 1,000 aces. It is not just the speed of his serve, but the depth, precision and the dangerous bounce of a lefthander.
But Ivanisevic's talents reach further than that. The Croatian is not only an enthusiastic soccer and basketball fan, but also a very good soccer player himself. In his hometown, he practiced with the team of Hadjuk Split. And he declined an offer to play in the second team, because he wanted to focus on tennis.
In 1995, Ivanisevic founded the "Help Children in Need" foundation to assist children in Croatia. He devotes a lot of time to this project and tries to be present at as many of it's events as possible. All this increased his popularity at home enormously.
In 1992, the patriot Ivanisevic received a special honour. At the opening ceremony of the Barcelona Olympics he held the flag for Croatia. He won two bronze medals for his country: in the singles and in the doubles together with Goran Prpic.
The best player to not have won a Grand Slam tournament
Due to his enormous potential, Ivanisevic has always been rated among the favourites to win a big event. In the meantime, a number of experts think he is the best active player who has never won a Grand Slam event.
The main explanation for this fact is Ivanisevic's temper. No other world class player can lose his concentration so completely. The Croatian can defeat the best players in the world - and the next day lose to a "nobody".
His best opportunities to win a major title have been at Wimbledon, where he has twice reached the Final. In 1992, he was the favourite against Andre Agassi, but the American's returns proved to be too strong, and the Croatian lost in five sets. In 1994, Pete Sampras was the stronger player and won in three sets. The first two were decided in the Tiebreak, but the third went to Sampras 6-0.
Last year, he went out in the second round. Sweden's Magnus Norman defeated him in five sets - winning the last set by 14-12! It was Ivanisevic's earliest exit since 1991. Accordingly, he dropped in the Rankings and finished out of the Top Ten for the first time since 1991.
Reaching the Final in Wimbledon was a first step on his way back. He moved into the Top 20 again. And with the tennis he showed there, this does not have to be the end.