Goran Ivanisevic Interview

24 March 2004
G. IVANISEVIC/N. Escude
6-4, 5-7, 7-6
An interview with GORAN IVANISEVIC

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Interviewers - black
Goran - sage.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

How would you rate your play today?

GORAN IVANISEVIC: I think I play good. I didn't serve well, was a lot of wind, and I didn't have any rhythm. But to beat Escude, who is great player, who won Qatar this year, I didn't expect to win, to be honest.
I thought I'm playing good. I practice last six days very hard here, so I thought I can give a good match. But then suddenly I was set and two breaks up. I already saw myself winning. But then 3-all in two seconds. Then another break, serve for the match, break in the third.
But overall, was good.

How is the shoulder now? Is that fine?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: Yeah, it's up and down. It depends. When I start to force, it hurts. At least I can hit the serve. Last year I couldn't hit the serve. Now I can hit a serve.
It's good. Shoulder is finally -- if I can play three hard sets like this and in the end I was serving the best, and the serve save me on matchpoint and on these couple of big points, then it's good.

In recent history, some players, about 30 years old, they win a Grand Slam they've always wanted to win, then you don't hear from them again. You did that a few years ago and have had injuries. Do you feel you don't want to follow that in your career? Do you want to go out on a higher note?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: I have, you know, these last two years, actually - last two years - I play four matches, five matches. I have lot of time to think, you know, how I want to stop, in which way.
I have a lot of good and crazy thoughts, you know (smiling).
Especially last couple of months, I thought which way I want to stop, so I finally decided - which I'm not going to tell you yet - but I know the way and how I gonna stop.

What did you miss most about not playing, if anything?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: Actually, I miss this, you know - this tiebreaks, this on matchpoint, (inaudible), to be with the guys in the locker room.
Practice, not so much. I have to push myself very hard to practice. And to travel is not easy. Because before when I was young, I didn't have anything to think about, I just played tennis and travel. Now, I have a family, I have a daughter, I have so many things before tennis.
But I still enjoy, you know, I still enjoy to win. And, actually, I didn't break the racquet today. I still enjoy to break the racquet (smiling). I don't know why I didn't break it today. I wanted to, but I say, "Okay, don't break it. Save it."

Is your daughter here with you?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: No, no, she's home.

Nicolas broke his and started playing better.
GORAN IVANISEVIC: Sometimes it's good. People, they think when you break the racquet, it's bad thing. But most of the times when you break the racquet, you play better. You get this anger outside of your system. Becker was great in that, you know.

How many racquets have you broken in the last two years?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: Maybe one because I play only couple of matches. I didn't have time to break any racquets. My shoulder was hurting so I didn't want to waste my energy to break any racquets.

Did you lose your motivation after you won Wimbledon?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: No, I didn't. I think I finish that year very good. If I knew that after Wimbledon that I gonna go through that I was going now, I would stop immediately after Wimbledon. But I couldn't know that, so...
I wanted to play a little bit and I started to have more and more problems. Then since that surgery, I am struggling badly with my shoulder.
Now is better, but is never gonna be like it was before.

How much are you hoping to play this year?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: I gonna play this, and then I want to play on clay. I always say I'm coming back to Wimbledon, you know. Last year I was close to, I was at Queens. At least I was in the neighborhood (smiling). But I didn't play.
But, hopefully, this year I gonna step on that grass. I think I owe that to myself and to the English crowd who supported me so well.
I hope to be fit, you know. Because if I am fit during Wimbledon, I can be very dangerous to a lot of guys there, you know.

Do you have a coach now?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: I came alone here. It's good sometimes to travel alone.

You and Federer.
GORAN IVANISEVIC: Okay, is young. But I had a lot of coaches. I am old guy on the tour, so I don't need coach.
Bob Brett helped me a little bit the last couple of days, he practice with me so...

What happened on the beach last year when you stepped on the shell?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: What happened happen only to me, you know. It's a beach, 10 kilometers beach, one shell probably and I found it (laughter).

Was it in the water or the sand?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: I mean, I was coming out of the water, so they didn't clean it well and they left a piece of shell inside.
So after three weeks, I still had the pain, and I took MRI. They found a piece of shell. I had to have surgery. Took me two and a half months to start to walk. Again, after surgery, it got inflamed again and it was hell.

From one shell?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: So I am staying away from the beach, only watching outside from my window. "On the beach, okay, stay in your room."
But I find something else. If it's not shell, I am the expert - in Miami, always in Miami. So many times I got -- in the final I got sore neck here before. I mean, couple years before I had a stress fracture on my finger and I had to pull out.
So here, I have a history of injuries here, funny injuries.

But you still come back?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: I come back to find more, you know, to find new ones. It's always nice to find new injuries, yeah (smiling).

Tell us about fatherhood and your daughter.
GORAN IVANISEVIC: It's great, you know. I don't sleep at night, but it's fun. It's fun, you know. It's different.
Now she is the boss, she is dictating the schedule around the house. You cannot plan anything. We plan three times to go on the trip and she got sick and, you know, you have to cancel everything.
But she's great. She start to walk and it's tough, you know, every day I don't see her I miss her a lot. But still, I know what is my priority now, start to try to finish my career in the good way, you know, and then I gonna have time for my daughter.

How old is she?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: She's eleven months.

Where do they live?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: They live in Croatia.

You say you've made some decisions about how you want to stop. Is it Centre on Wimbledon?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: I gonna tell you in a couple of weeks when I gonna find the right moment. You gonna know - pretty soon.

What's her name?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: Amber Maria.

How would you compare your serve now to the way you served at your peak? How has it evolved?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: It's much slower. But still, you know, I can hit aces. I am forcing more. I have pain, so I am changing little bit, trying to find the best position for less pain.
Is not like before, I just came, toss the ball and it was like automatically going in. Now it's more manually. I am shifting the gears, you know, so I am trying but still I have to fight, you know.
I was thinking to stop it, just to disappear, go away, but then in the end, you know, I still think I can beat these guys, you know, if I play well. I prove it today, and I still have fun to win.
But I don't have fun to practice so much, so...

What do you think of Roddick's serve?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: It's huge. It's huge. But still is not my first choice of the serve. He hits hard, but those serves are easier to return. You just block it, you know.

What's your first choice?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: At the moment... at the moment, I don't know, huh. At the moment, I don't know, actually. In Top 10, okay, Roger is great but he doesn't have best serve.
I like more the older guys' serves, you know.

After what you've been going through with your shoulder, a lot of people say they look at Roddick and the way he serves, it's just problems waiting to happen?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: I think he's going to have to have problems because with these balls, with the courts, they are slower and slower every time, I mean, and he hits 240, 235 every serve; I mean, he has to have problems in couple of years. If he doesn't, I don't know, then he's from outer space.
But he has to have problems. Everybody has problems, you know. So many years I didn't have problems, I thought I never gonna have problems. But suddenly, you know, it just comes. You cannot control that.

When you were a set and two breaks up and then lost that advantage, was that because of lack of match practice that that happened?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: Yeah, maybe. I thought I already won. I surprised myself how easy I was winning, how good I play. Then I stopped playing and I got little bit, you know, tight. I didn't want to start to push and against those guys, they take every chance.
But good thing that I was strong in my mind. I fought back. And maybe before, if I lose this, probably third set would be 6-1 or 6-2 and I go home tomorrow. But I thought I can win, even third set, even when I lost another break in the third, I just said to myself, "Just keep hang in there and, you know..." Tiebreak, again, I had so many chances.
But it was good, good match. Good for me. Because I lost couple of tough matches in Milan and in Marseille, so I needed this.

Is it much harder to play the bigger points when you've not played very much?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: It's tough, you know, sometimes I feel little bit lost, you know. Sometimes I feel, what I'm doing here? You know, you have daughter home, go home, stay home. But in the end, again, I hit some good shots and I'm happy, you know, like a little kid, you know.
So it's strange, you know, it's strange. Too much when you're two years outside of something, it's tough to come back. It's not easy to come back because these guys, young guys, they just too good. They hit the ball so hard that only way you can keep with them, you have to go to gym every day, you have to practice every day hard, hard, and otherwise you better stay home and watch TV and enjoy.

Do you think Serena will have a tough time?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: Serena is not going to have tough time because she is one step in front, Serena and Venus. Only maybe Henin and Clijsters and Capriati, but Capriati, she has to be very fit to keep with those two sisters, otherwise...
She gonna maybe need two, three tournaments, but then probably they gonna be just like it was before - finals: Serena and Venus all the time.

Did you have to go to the hospital for the foot injury? Did you go to the emergency room with the shell?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: Where, you mean here?

Yes.
GORAN IVANISEVIC: No, I came here.

Oh, you came here and they handled it here?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: Yeah.

What foot was it?
GORAN IVANISEVIC: I don't know (laughter). It's same thing - left, right (laughter). Doesn't matter.