Standing Ovation for Ivanisevic
25 June 2004
Phil Casey, PA Sport
Goran Ivanisevic received a standing ovation from the Wimbledon Centre Court crowd as he fittingly ended his career at the scene of his greatest triumph.
Ivanisevic lost 6-2 6-3 6-4 in the third round to Lleyton Hewitt, the man who succeeded him as champion, in his last match before retiring from competitive tennis.
The 32-year-old then pulled on a Croatian football shirt as he enjoyed the adulation and warm evening sunshine before leaving the court where he had finally claimed the Wimbledon title at the fourth attempt against Pat Rafter three years ago.
Hewitt had not lost a set to Ivanisevic in their two previous meetings, both on grass, and swiftly had the upper hand again this afternoon.
The Australian eventually took advantage of his fourth break point with a superb backhand winner cross-court in the fourth game, and the 23-year-old then broke serve again to take the set 6-2 in 30 minutes.
Ivanisevic had already defied the odds by beating number 31 seed Mikhail Youzhny and Filippo Volandri to reach the last 32, coming back from two sets to one down in the second round.
That was his 600th career victory but it looked like being his last, the 32-year-old having already stated he would retire from competitive tennis after Wimbledon, scene of his greatest triumph three years ago.
Sadly prevented from defending his title through injury, Ivanisevic is still troubled by pain in his left shoulder and too often found his once untouchable serves returned with interest.
He had least not lost his great sense of humour and fun however, throwing his racquet at the ball after slipping over, heading away one Hewitt return and giving a line judge a thumbs-up when a close call went in his favour.
Another crucial call did go against him however, a return which Ivanisevic chose not to volley dropped right on the baseline to give Hewitt a third break point, and a backhand winner and four serves later he had taken the set 6-3 for a two sets to nil lead.
There was no doubt who the majority of a partisan crowd wanted to win, chants of ‘Goran Goran’ resounding around Centre Court at the change of ends.
One male fan even got carried away and shouted ‘I love you Goran’, which brought a quizzical smile from Ivanisevic.
Hewitt was in no mood to extend the match however and broke serve for a 5-4 lead as Ivanisevic slipped, not for the first time, on the grass.
And the former world number one then served out to love in ruthless fashion to complete a 6-2 6-3 6-4 win in one hour 26 minutes.
The players then exchanged lengthy congratulations at the net before Ivanisevic paused for a moment to enjoy the standing ovation, then pulling on a Croatian football shirt before finally exiting in a suprisingly restrained manner.