Goran Ivanisevic against Jay Berger
Twenty percent of the tennis court was still in the sun. The speed and pace of the tennis balls on the shadowy late-afternoon green concrete court was incredible. At 3-all in the third set it happened. Ivanisevic served hard to the corner. Berger threw himself at a two-handed back-hand return of serve and ripped it down the line. Racing up to net, Ivanisevic was forced to hit a half-volley drop shot with his backhand. Flinching with the returned ball at his feet like a matador passing close to a bull, Ivanisevic nearly missed the very tough shot. But the tennis ball cut up into the air, hung briefly, and angled impossibly out of reach off the side of the line as Berger charged forward, too late for a play. It was a great, nearly impossible winner by Ivanisevic.
"Out!" called the lineswoman at the back of the court.
Goran Ivanisevic roared and spun around in a circle, gored by the invisible bull. It was the third straight call in the third set that had gone against him. He hammered the top of the net, swore in Croatian, looked up into the beautiful red sunset-streaked Florida sky, and shouted again at the top of his lungs for all to hear, this time in English: "Impossible!"
Jay Berger turned his back, leaving the courtroom action to Goran Ivanisevic and the South Florida "Perry Mason" fans. The referee would not overrule his lineswoman's call. Ivanisevic talked with his hands.
"But my ball was in! Here. Right here on the line! Stupid!" shouted Goran Ivanisevic. "Stupid! I'll show you just where my ball landed. Here!" And to prove his point, the handsome six-foot four-inch, seventeen-year-old Yugslav cleared his throat, leaned over the net, and spat right onto the line. "You call that out!" dared Ivanisevic. Even his spit was in.