Goran Ivanisevic Article

The Telegraph 2001
Split personality finds moment of calm
By William Johnson

Home


GORAN IVANISEVIC said he hardly slept the night before the greatest day of his life and then described the occasion as "a dream". He said he does not care whether he ever plays another match and then promised to return to the All England Club next year to open the tournament as defending champion.

That is the enigma from Croatia. The Split personality in more ways than one - the man who had to wrestle with his fragile temperament at a crucial stage in the fourth set of his epic struggle with Pat Rafter to keep alive the fairy tale of People's Monday.

"I told myself that I had to calm down," he reflected about the key moment when he controversially lost his serve and also, spitting and gesticulating, his composure. I told myself, `This is your last chance. You're going to win it. You just have to keep cool. You can't afford to be crazy in a Wimbledon final'."

Ivanisevic started the tournament ranked 125 in the world and was only able to take part as the All England Club awarded him a wild card for his past record and entertainment value.

He added: "I thought that if I stayed crazy for another couple of games I was finished. So I just kept my mind, telling myself that I had to keep winning my serve in the fifth set."

The name of Ken Rosewall was also a big factor in keeping Ivanisevic focused in what was an amazing Centre Court atmosphere - both players praised the contribution of the crowd. He did not want to be bracketed with the Australian veteran as a four-time loser.

"I was sure it had to be me this time," said the beaten finalist of 1992, '94 and '98. "Everything was going for me for the first time in my life," he remarked, referring to the massive stroke of luck he enjoyed in his three-day semi-final against Briton's Tim Henman when rain rescued him from what seemed certain exit.

Rafter, as ever gracious in defeat, took little consolation from the fact that he played a major role on an unforgettable sporting occasion. "I'm sick of making bloody history," he said in response to the question that he had helped Ivanisevic remove the label of being the finest player never to have won Wimbledon.

Rafter is now in the running for that unwanted honour after losing the last two finals. "This one hurts a little more than the last time," he said. "The first time was just fun to be there. This time I didn't want to come second. But it was taken out of my hands. He served very well when he had to."

The Australian, who has been severely troubled by a shoulder injury which will need prolonged rest at the end of the year, refused to confirm whether he will be seeking to make it third time lucky next year. "Who knows?" was his initial reply to whether he will return.

When pressed on whether he could one day win the world's biggest tournament, he added: "I don't know. But I know Tim Henman can."