Sports.com - 18 January 2000
Goran's dream still alive
by Andrew Warshaw
Every year, Goran Ivanisevic has the same goal, the same dream – and ultimately the same nightmare.
Three times he has come within a whisker of winning Wimbledon with its grass courts ideal for the big-serving game of the Croat who yearns to add his name to the roster of champions at the All England Club.
Yet now, on the other side of the world and with the pressure off, Ivanisevic has found himself on a court not quite as quick as Wimbledon but certainly favouring his lightning serve-and-volley game.
Chances are he won’t quite go all the way but the manner in which he staved off Cedric Pioline’s comeback in the first round of the Australian Open augurs well for the 28-year-old lefthander who held on to win 9-7 in the fifth set and oust the No. 13 seed.
Six years ago, Ivanisevic was number two in the world and has already pocketed more than $18 million in prize money.
He would trade a large chunk of that for winning just one grand slam title and if it can’t be his beloved Wimbledon, Melbourne would not be a bad second choice.
Many great players have come unstuck at the world’s prime events.
Ken Rosewall and Ilie Nastase famously never won Wimbledon, Bjorn Borg couldn’t triumph in New York and Boris Becker was never crowned French Open champion.
But all of them succeeded most of the time and Ivanisevic is determined not to end his career without at least one major prize.
He never stood a chance of being seeded in Australia having endured his worst year to date, slumping to 62nd in the rankings at the end of 1999, the first time for 11 years he has finished outside the top 50.
This year wasn’t shaping up very well either before the five-set marathon with Pioline. Ivanisevic lost in the first round at both the Doha and Auckland warm-up events.
“It’s tough when you lose on the Monday, practise to Sunday and lose on the Monday again,” he said. “It was a bad year. If I repeat it, I should get an award.”
Unlike many of his rivals in Melbourne, Ivanisevic is not the slightest bit worried about the fast court and even faster balls.
He will continue to take his chances, slam down as many aces as possible -- next up is Francisco Clavet -- and hope for the best.