Goran Ivanisevic Interview

The Lipton Championships - 1996
ATP Tour
March 31, 1996
A. AGASSI \ G. Ivanisevic, 3-0 (retired)

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Interviewers - black
Goran - sage.

GREG SHARKO: Before we get started. This is the first time in Goran's career he has retired in ATP tour finals. He is now 38 and 5th for the year. It was the 7th ATP tour final of the year and he's four and three in those finals.First question for Goran, please.

Goran, hard luck, do you know what caused the neck problem?

No idea. Everything went fine yesterday. I had a great day. Then this morning, coach woke me up, we talk, and then I get up from bed and I just couldn't turn my neck on the left side.

You didn't leave the air conditioning on --
No, no, everything was turned off. Then I came here, had heat treatment for three hours almost and tried to hit and tried to physiotherapist. They tried to turn it. I got injection, I got pills, tablets, whatever. I tried everything and nothing helped.

What was the treatment exactly?
First I put heat, then I start to stretch, then they give me these tablets which I thought was going to put the pain out, then injections.

You have what?
Injection of what?

Injection of what?
Injection of what? I don't know, you have to talk to the doctor about it.

Where did they inject?
In the behind. Then they start to maybe click it so that I can feel looser, then nothing. Then I went to hit for one minute and a half and I just -- then they asked me if I can just go and try to do it. I just tried and I just felt bad there. I couldn't --

Who asked you to try?
No, they asked me to try. I was the-- I also wanted to try, everybody asked me to try. I wanted to see maybe, you know, practice is different, maybe in the match I'll forget about it then something else happen, but nothing happened. I was just worse. I couldn't hit. My backhand, serve was hurting, only thing was forehand was okay, but to beat Andrea you have to be 105% and I was maybe two.

Do you think this will set back your game at all?
I hope not. I mean, I'll hopefully try to solve this injury and then try to continue.

Goran, have you ever experienced anything like this before?
Never. It's really tough. I mean, I never had luck that somebody retires me now first round, second round, never, but this is just -- I mean, one of the biggest tournaments and just great day to play, and just I was not able. It's really -- I don't know, maybe it's all this six, seven weeks, I'm just traveling, playing final every week and my body is tired and small problem and just my body couldn't take it any more.

Do you think maybe they should have told the crowd, obviously they had no idea and they were chanting for Pete?
I felt bad, they didn't have any idea what was happening. It's like they think it is my fault. I had nothing to do. I would love to still be there another couple of hours and play, but I think they are going to understand and they are going to have now a nice match now between Andre and Jim.

Is it painful for you to turn your head and shoulders to hit the back?
Yes, backhand especially because I can't turn it this way, the backhand -

Was it painful to run?
Not so much. Not so much, on the forehand side it was okay. Backhand side, I have to go like this and then it hurts.

What do you feel right now?
No, when I keep straight, I don't feel anything.

When you turn, is it shooting pain or just sore?
It is very sore. It's very -- it's like every time it is blocking me when I go on this side, so -- I mean, I can hang there for one hour and walk left, right, hit some forehands, maybe ace, but I couldn't do that. It's just -- it is a big tournament. It is a final. It was hurting me too bad, hurting me inside and the neck, too, just to go out there and not try.

So, you look up a few times, were you thinking the rain was going to come?
Yes, I said, okay, maybe you hang and the rain will come, maybe one day delay, you know, but you can't do that. I mean, I couldn't stand there and just hope the rain is going to come and pray. If it had to happen today, it happens. I couldn't do anything.

What time did you get up this morning, Goran?
I woke up at 9:20.

Is that when you first noticed the neck?
No, everything -- actually I woke up at 7:00, 8:00. I was moving left, right in the bed, so I didn't feel anything.

So, it wasn't just as you got up from bed, but later after you'd been up for a while?
9:20 I woke up. I talked to my coach like I said, I didn't feel any problem. I stand up, I went to the living room and I just couldn't move my neck, my head, it was blocked.

So, it wasn't just as you got up from bed, but later after you'd been up for a while?
Yeah -- I mean, just after five seconds, you know, I probably was during the night, I did something, probably I was so tense sleeping and my body is tired and that's it.

Were you nervous when you went to bed last night?
No, why should I be nervous, it is not a final? I play enough finals this year and in my life.

You said you were tense, though?
Not tense, I think -- I always tense, but I think my body was a little tired from all this traveling and this hard court is a little tough on your body. It's just bad luck and nothing else.

Did the doctor give you any indication how long this will stay with you, that you might not be able to play?
No, he didn't say anything.

Do you have to wear a brace on your neck?
I'll do whatever I have to to be better. I mean, as soon as possible.

What are you going to do to treat it now?
No, I'm going home tomorrow. I'm supposed to play Davis Cup Friday, I don't know if that's going to happen and then I don't know, I am going to probably go there with my team and have a treatment there. If I cannot play, I just -- we have a doctor there and will just have treatment.

What was next on your schedule after Davis Cup?
Barcelona, Monte Carlo and all this clay stuff.

Did the doctor give any reason why this might have happened?
It's blocked. It's really tense there and, I don't know, you have to better ask him, you know, it's not so many reasons, you just probably I pinched something or something there and they cannot get it released before the match. Maybe it's going to be better in one day, five hours, who knows, but at this moment.

All the whistling and booing, do you feel as a professional tennis player, let's leave Ivanisevic out of this that when a case such as this course, that the people who have paid very good money, $14,000 of them should be informed when the match doesn't start on time, Mr. Ivanisevic and he is going to try to play, that might have spared you and everybody a lot of inconvenience?
Possible, but I think that's a question you have to ask the organizers.

I wonder how you as a player feel about that?
I think as a player, maybe to protect me a little bit, but, whatever, whatever happened, happened. I know they were not happy. It is a big final, big day, nice crowd. I was really -- when I came in, I felt like I can play, but then I made couple of movements and I saw -- I realized that I couldn't play.

Did that raise your frustration at all, that all the booing was going on?
It's not nice, not frustration, I just felt bad. I mean, I didn't do anything bad there, just tried my best there, came on the court, tried three games and then they booing me like it's my fault that -- like I didn't want to play.

After that third game instead of sitting down you went over to the trainers on the sideline, what was the conversation like between you?
I said I should stop and I couldn't -- they said maybe you are trying more, maybe it is going to rain, I said okay, I try, but -- and then I just played three more points and I realized it doesn't help anybody.

When Cliff Buchholz came out to talk to you, what did he say to you?
When?

Didn't -- did Cliff Buchholz come out to talk to you on the sidelines after you went back on court to play?
No, no, that was supervisor.

That was Mark Darby.
Before you said you thought you could play when you started warming out, what did you find out during the warmup?

I found out I cannot play because I walked in, you know, you see all this full 14,000 people, you know, get into that, you think now maybe it is going to stop. Then I hit couple of balls, especially my backhand, I said my serve is not going to be good.

What were your thoughts when you saw your first came in at, I think, 80 miles an hour, this isn't me?
I saw that this morning, this isn't me when I started to practice, I couldn't move, I just was trying my best with the serve, whatever.

What did Andre say to you when you shook hands with him then?
He said good try, bad luck, he can't say anything. Just bad luck.

Did you talk at all about that today?
No.

GREG SHARKO: Anything else for Goran? All right, well, thanks everyone