Goran Ivanisevic Interview

THE LIPTON CHAMPIONSHIPS
ATP Tour March 28, 1996
G. IVANISEVIC/M. Chang 6-4, 6-4

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Interviewers - black
Goran - sage.


JOE LYNCH: Goran Ivanisevic into the semifinals. He gets his first post match press conference.
Yes
JOE LYNCH: 37 and four for the year now and is over 600 aces, more than halfway to the yearly record in the first three months of the year. 620 now.

What's the record?
JOE LYNCH: 1169.
By Goran Ivanisevic?
JOE LYNCH: Yes, 1994. Enough. What about a question?


Your own target for about 2500 aces for the year. If you carry on like this, do you have any sort of --
Set the record that nobody is going to beat in another 200 years before robots comes and breaks the record.

Goran, at the end of the match, you were handed three balls to hit up into the stands and you either through one completely out of the stadium or it was so high that I couldn't see -- did it go out of the stadium?
Yes, it went up, up.

So, some fan was deprived of the ball that you were supposed to give to them.
JOE LYNCH: They will find it on the grounds somewhere

They're going to find it.

Goran, how pleased are you, though, with the other way -- other aspects of your game working this year, because we've known about the serve, everything is so much more disciplined and effective.
Great. You can't beat Chang with just the serve, he was changing and serving close and far, but today I think I surprised him, I mean, his way of playing he gives you this very soft ball in the middle of the court and then you blow it off the court or you miss everything and everything comes back. I surprised him. I hit a couple of winners in the beginning and I put pressure on him. He couldn't give me any more of the soft balls. Then he tried to make the winners and then he was missing and that was the key of the -- not the -- I played today and I beat him because he was rushing, he wanted to make the winner and he couldn't.

Goran, we had heard about how you have your old buddy now working with you and how you are having a great time off the court. We watched you practice yesterday for a good while and it was real obvious that's not -- that's really the way it is. How important is that becoming as the year goes on?
I mean it's great. We have so much fun. We practice serious, serious we have sometimes fun on the court. We play lots of different things, lots of shots that I didn't play too much before and that's why I am hitting those balls much better, especially forehands down the line, which I used before every fifth month for the tournament, now I am using a lot of those balls, this is one of the most important shots in tennis, working down the line, especially for me which I made him run to the backhand and then hit down the line, which is a much better shot. So, I practice that a lot, backhand cross court, so with this new coach, I think I improved a lot of those little shots which I missed before.

He has this drill he does with you where you just take high balls and lob very softly just over the net.
That was just a small -- this ball is not allowed to bounce, that's what we playing evey --

What's the point --
Point nothing, just to win and he beat me last two days, which I didn't like. Today I beat him, so that's why I was happier, that's why I played good.

It is okay to take a break -- obviously it is okay to take a break in your practice and just have some fun like that.
Yeah, I mean, I don't have to practice now so much, everything is working fine. I just have to, every day, half an hour, 40 minutes put my game together and I will be ready for the match.

Goran, the fact that you are winning so many matches, six final winning, four tournaments that means you played a lot more than the year before. You feel more tired or the fact that you are winning is helping you feel better?
I feel very tired, but just now I am just playing -- I am happy to play and that's keeping me going. When I come on the court, I am concentrating, mentally. I am still -- my legs a little tired, but here I am still okay, fresh. I have busy schedule and pretty tough Friday, I have to play Davis Cup in Croatia, it's pretty tough, but I am still surviving. I mean, I am still going to keep going until I collapse on the court.

Counting the match, you have played a lot of match, more this year than last year at this time?
Yeah, I'm playing -- before I could dream to be in Key Biscayne til Friday only if I take holidays, now I am here in tournament. It's good, every week we are till Saturday and Sunday and the lockers are pretty empty on Saturdays and Sundays, so it is pretty fun.

Let's talk about your good friend Pete Sampras.
He is not my good friend and he is a great player and we had a lot of good matches before. I think it is going to be another -- it is going to be different than tonight, will be a lot of big serves, a lot of free points from the serves, but I think it is always between me and him who is more steady from the back and we concentrate more on the serve, putting and returning better is going to mean the match, but I think I have a chance. I think he is not playing the best tennis. I think in Indian Wells he didn't play the greatest tennis, but here he seems to always play better and I saw a couple of, I guess, Martin played good tennis, I am going to have fun and I am going to try to hit my shots and if he wants to beat me, he has to play good tennis.

Even though it is a different surface and a much more important tournament, namely Wimbledon, is it important for you to win this match to have some sort of psychological edge against Pete in case you do meet again at Wimbledon?
It has nothing to do with Wimbledon. It is important for me to win any match. This is another tournament. Wimbledon is another story. I can win every match before Wimbledon and Wimbledon will come and I can lose. There is nothing to compare any tournament. You can't compare any tournament with Wimbledon.

Since you're playing so well now, do you find yourself occasionally looking ahead a little bit to Wimbledon?
Yes, I have to look, I mean, I am not thinking yet, but Wimbledon is pretty close and first I think I should -- I grew up on clay and I have good results on clay and I think I am going to give it a shot first Roland Garros and then I am going to concentrate about Wimbledon.

Years ago I asked if you have to play the match of your life, which surface you would choose. You said clay. That was three or four years ago. I think it was in Basel, or whatever, so you still think the same or --
Yes, I mean, clay, I learn my tennis on clay and it's maybe one of my favorite surfaces. Last year I had a great season except for the French Open, so maybe I am still thinking like that. I would think -- maybe I would like at final Wimbledon if I can reach another final that best match of my life.

Goran, was tonight the first time you've thrown your racket during this tournament?
I don't think so. I throw a couple of times, maybe against Reneberg, I throw one time, but -- it helps. It doesn't matter, throwing or not, it doesn't take the points away from me. It doesn't bother me. It doesn't break my concentration.

You are not throwing as much as you did?
When I throw the racket before, when I throw the racket and I start to talk to myself and then I lose a couple of points, game and then it is tough to come back, especially against Chang. You cannot let him see that and give him any free points, so now when I throw the racket it is just I throw it and have fun.

JOE LYNCH: You just throw the balls afterwards
It is better throwing the balls. It doesn't cost anything

What was the crowd chanting after those serves? Did it detract you or were you so focused you didn't notice it?
I was pretty surprised, especially when I did a doublefault. They went bananas. Usually the crowd here is pretty fair, but tonight I was surprised. They were pretty exciting, like Davis Cup, that gives me something extra, you know, I just say, yeah, yeah, just go ahead. Then I hit an ace, and then it cooled them down, I liked that. When they go so exciting, then they go, whoa. It makes me happy.

Do you think a year or so ago you might have gone bananas as well?
No, not bananas, but maybe I go more scared, but I couldn't provide the ace, maybe I go tight and maybe I start to go for the big second serve, which is something stupid. So, today, I kept my mind on doublefault. I say now it is time for an ace and ace came and very, very -- I was very concentrated.

After you close the match you were pointing out somebody in the crowd. Were you picking on somebody specifically or just the crowd in general?
No, no, my coach.

Goran, you look more focused now or as focused as in Indian Wells.
Yes, more fun, I am more focused. I know what is my priorities and I keep letting my mind when I get on the court.

You were talking about not throwing your racket as much.
That has nothing to do. I am more calm on the court. I am just -- this year by surprise, everybody is surprised how calm I am. I just lost my mind a little bit in Milan a couple of weeks ago, that was just for a couple of seconds, but I was controlling myself okay.

Is that carrying over in your practice and training? Are you doing anything different in terms of focusing?
No, no, I am not now try to stand on my head at night and be focused for the next morning. I just have fun and on the court I am enjoying more. I am enjoying to play, have fun on the court, to hit more shots and that's why I playing better.

How much did you used to dislike coming here to the United States?
A lot. I don't know why. I mean, it's a fun country, never boring here, always things to do, always see interesting people, I just didn't like the surface. I didn't -- maybe before I come on the plane, I didn't like to think that I have to fly to the States and then I put extra pressure on myself, oh, the States again, but since last year when I had a pretty good season, summer season on hard court and then just Open, twist my ankle, then I realized I can play good tennis and now this year whatever I am, I just don't make any problems, trouble, I just play wherever they put me and have fun and I start playing better.

Have you done anything interesting this week in your time off?
Interesting? Wait a second. Nothing interesting. We playing little cards me and coach against my mother and father. That's a big, big thing, you know. It is a big, big battles, you know, and we losing all the time. Last night was pretty upset.

What card game is that?
It is an Italian game

What's it called?
It is called Briscola. It is tough for you to --

Briscola?
Briscola. And all sort of signs which you not allowed in this game, little cheating, you know, doesn't help.

How much have you lost, Goran?
It is a secret. My father is pretty experienced.

Experienced on cheating
No. No. No, he doesn't know that we are cheating, you know.

He will now. Are you playing for money or just for pride?
For everything, you know, but it doesn't matter, it is more pride. It is just I don't like to lose any kind of cards and this is pretty bad when we losing. I didn't like last night, they beat us pretty badly and I couldn't sleep.

How tall is your father, Goran?
My father is not so tall. 180, 178,. They are pretty small. I mean my mother is 175, but my grandfather was pretty tall, 195.

What happened to you?
I don't know. You have to ask my mother and father

Goran, if you see Bob now, how do you get on?
Great. We had little jogging in Indian Wells at 6:00 in the morning. You know, those things happen. Before I never could imagine me running before Bob, but in Indian Wells I was just coming back from running and Bob was going to the running it was 6:00 in the morning and that is something unbelievable, so -- but we have great, great just talk and I still, four and a half years I was part of the family and I still have good relation with his kids and the wife. We talk normal.

Goran, there have been times, including right now, where Pete Sampras hasn't been No. 1 for the past couple of years, do you still consider him your toughest opponent in the men's game?
He is the most complete No. 1 player when he is playing good tennis. He is the most complete No. 1. He can play on any surface and he is the best No. 1, I mean.

The fact that you have more something on the court now, do you think it is because you are winning now or you think you are changing your attitude?
No, it is not because I am winning, I just change my attitude and enjoying, doesn't matter what -- I know I am going to probably, this year, going to have some tough time because it is tough to go like this, but I change, I change and I realize that now this couple of years could be my best years in tennis and you have to change sometimes. I imagine to change and play good tennis.

Besides Agassi, who is the best returner of your serve?
Martina Hingus. Chang, sometimes the ball clicked, especially today, came amazingly back. I mean, he was standing so close and I hit right into the body and the ball came so quick, so because he is pretty quick, I mean, he is very quick, so he is returning, but Agassi is more picking the side, he is picking the side and he is guessing. He is 95 percent time guessing right, which is unbelievable in the head. He has this talent of guessing and unbelievably quick, but these two are the best.

When do you slow your scedule down so that you don't, you know, burn out playing too much matches?
It is tough to slow because now I am playing tomorrow and then Friday I am playing Davis Cup in Croatia and then one week after then Barcelona, which I have -- maybe I am going to skip that, but then it is pretty busy, clay court season, then is Wimbledon, then is olympic games and then is hardcourt season, then it's indoor, and then it's -- I don't know what. It is tough. I made a tough schedule. I don't know what for, I try to be iron man, but it is okay as long as I'm winning I don't complain. It's fun.

You are playing Monte Carlo and Rome?
Monte Carlo, Hamburg, Rome, yes, everything.

JOE LYNCH: Anything else for Goran?
Of course your points are so fast, Goran, you are not really working that hard; right?

Clay is coming. I am going to have to run a little bit there plus I don't mind. I like clay and today I was not so easy everything.

Goran, what about the change, was that a conscious decision to have fun or did it just start happening, you made some --
I knew after such a bad two months last year, everything went bad, I practiced so much with Bob, everything, I was so concentrated I wanted to win match so badly and I couldn't produce anything good on the court losing to anybody, everybody, it just was not there and suddenly all those pieces paid off and start to work, and then I start to hit the ball better, little change in the coaches, you know, sometimes it is good to change. Sometimes maybe what's good for me at the moment is a little fresh and he put little fresh things into my mind and just suddenly I clicked and started to produce good tennis and have more fun.

How did Bob tell you you that he was going to stop coaching; did he phone you or write you?
That was pretty interesting. He had -- I mean -- I couldn't win the match and we practiced a lot and then we came to Essen and I lost that day to Sinner then we played doubles 2:00 in the morning, I lost to doubles, so he said to me eight o'clock practice, I said, I'm not going to practice because practice or no practice I cannot beat anybody, so I decide not to practice it's much easier, you know, then he say we're finished.

Just like that?
Yes, he said so many times like that we finished then after half an hour we came back said, sorry, Bob, everything is okay, you know, but then next morning he called me at 9:00, whatever it was, and he said he wants to talk to me and I came to his room and he showed me the statement, he wrote a statement. I was shocked. I almost got heart attack. I mean I was pretty shocked. Then I was not any more sorry, I knew it's over. And then I had to write a statement and that was it.

How did you feel when you read it?
No, I was really -- that was tough, that was really tough. It was really something very touching and -- but then I had to go -- I couldn't do anything. I wrote a statement and I had a couple of tournaments, now I said, okay, new life, new season coming, let's try to make something from that.

Did you try to talk Bob out of it?
Actually I didn't try to beg him, I mean, to -- I just felt like that, he said he wants to stop and I didn't want to beg, I just was ready to go and I wrote my statement and that was it. I think it will be stupid after this press release thing went on that I go and beg him, please, Bob. I think it was his decision and probably he was right. He just -- you never know.

Would that be fair to say that was the lowest point in your professional life?
What do you mean lowest?

Did you hit bottom there; is that where the changes started?
Yes, I was pretty down, you know, when you cannot read the match. I I know that I practiced five hours a day, I know that I have a something that is there, whatever match I play I cannot win, I lost everything first round, indoor, that was my best maybe surface, I lost everything, then I knew I have to -- it cannot be worse, it can only be better, so from then step by step I managed to play best tennis of my life.

When did you call Vedron?
I called Vedron, I knew he was coming to Split for Christmas and New Year and then I asked him if he can ask the club where he practice if he can go to me to Australia and then we went to Australia then from Sidney. I phoned Bob and I asked him what he thinks about Vedron (ph), if he can become my coach, and Bob gave me full support. He helped me with that. He was happy that I asked him for the advice, so Bob helped me in that, if Bob said no, maybe I will have different thinking, but Bob said, yeah, I think he is a good guy for you, he is new, he is going to be king to work and he is going to be king to produce results for you, so then that's it. Then after Sidney, after Australia, I said, "Vedron, you want to be my coach?" He split with the club and then we signed the contract.

Were you in school together in Split, is that where you met him?
No. He is five years older than me, we met in the tennis club, all the life spent together, it is pretty interesting, you know, he knows me very good since I was nine and it is just -- he knows me and just now he is my coach. It is very strange whenever I see him he is my coach.

Is he a little bit like an older brother for you?
Everybody asks if he is my brother. I didn't see one person, oh, he is your brother, you look same, but he is my brother, my coach, my friend, everything. We have just -- we have to -- I mean, now a lot of coaches they are just there because they are paid to be there and, okay, they practice with the guy and say, see you tomorrow. I didn't want a coach like that. I think for good relation you have to be good friends which I manage to be with Bob in this four and a half years and now with Vedron I was friends for 15 years so that's helped me.

JOE LYNCH: Too bad he can't play cards.
Well, I beat him today singles.