The US Open
29 August 2001
G. IVANISEVIC/H. Armando, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3
Interviewers - black
Goran - sage.
You paused right before serving at match point in the third set. What were you thinking?
To have some fun. I was too stiff in the beginning. I came into that court, I never saw so many people watching me first round. I said, "What's going on here?" I was like, "Wow." Then I was very nervous.
After, you know, when I pause, I was just getting to like to be there, you know, I mean, having fun. I was starting to have fun. But in the beginning I was very, very tight, you know.
Did you feel like you had to acknowledge the crowd that had really been behind you? It seemed as if you were saying, "Thank you, bring it on."
The crowd was great. The New York crowd, if they like you, you really in good shape. If they don't like you, then you in big trouble. But they seem to like me. It's really great.
But just was bad luck, I couldn't loosen up earlier. I was just too tight. But then after, at the match point, I say, "Thanks God." Ace, was a let, but then I won. I was just hoping not to make something stupid. Usually when you get too relaxed, you maybe make one double-fault, lose the game, be trouble again. But everything went okay.
You kicked butt at Wimbledon. Everyone who wasn't dead showed up in Split to celebrate with you. Some of us are afraid that things are going so well that 911 Goran won't have anything to do.
He's here. He's here. He always has to be here. He was enjoying today with the New York crowd up there. He didn't have to come down because they both were very nervous, good one and bad one, but things were under control.
You think he'll show up before the tournament is over?
For sure. When you lose your mind, has to show up. It's always like first round when you're nervous. But he's still there. We keep him for the more important matches.
New York City, everybody lives here. How many Croatians live in this city?
I don't know actually.
Are there a lot?
Yeah. They are in Astoria. That's the Croatian part of the city. Lots of them. I can't tell you the exact number.
When you hit town, how do they communicate with you?
Actually, I didn't see so many Croatians where I stay. But it's fun anyway to go on the streets, see so many strange people in this city. You just walk and enjoy.
The reigning Wimbledon Champion is usually regarded as one of the favorites here. The sense seems to be again that you are again a longshot. What do you think about that?
I don't care, long or not long. I just came here to have fun. I play good after Wimbledon on hard court in Indianapolis, Cincinnati, so I prove my game is on the top. I came here expecting -- I mean, if I pass the first week, is going to be again very, very open, I going to be very dangerous. Two more rounds that I have to win. I going to play better and better each match, and we see.
Doesn't matter what the people are talking. Just have to concentrate about my game, how I feel on the court. I feel happy, it's fun to play tennis again, is great to be here.
Was there any point during that match where you thought back to your experience here last year?
Not really because last year was disaster. I came here, sit on this chair, I remember that, talking pretty sad things. But now is different. You can't go back. Today was too nice day to go back and spoil everything. Everything was nice, a lot of people supporting me, I'm playing good tennis. I don't want to go back.
Do you have any strong feelings one way or another about the 32 seeding situation, what it does for the tournament or for you?
I think it's better. I think is more fair for everybody. You have more interesting matches, you know. You don't have like later. 16 seed can play against 17 player in the world. Is not easy. Like this gives you more chance maybe to have easier first round. But here is nothing easy.
You kind of proved at Wimbledon that it doesn't mean anything where you're seeded.
When you play good, doesn't mean anything. But sometimes you can play good and then play against top seed, then you can't show that. Sometimes is easier to be seeded and then maybe on the Grand Slam you're more nervous first two rounds. Even when you play bad, you can sneak in. After, you get your game going. I think is good what they did with 32 seeds.
Tell us about the month after Wimbledon. What was it like for you?
It was great. I came home. Good striptease in front of 150,000 people. I took some holidays, came here to the States, had fun. I played good tennis. I went to the Letterman show. Everything is becoming famous, slowly.
Was it how you imagined it?
Not really. I think that was a great scenario. If I win Wimbledon before, it wouldn't be like this, you know. This is like better. I think was worth it to wait and suffer three finals. To win in this kind of way, it was great.
Personally, what kind of celebrating did you do the days afterwards?
Actually, I didn't sleep for four days. I was very tired after third day. When you don't sleep, my eyes were like every two seconds going. But I was hanging there. Then I took like ten days off, was sleeping a lot.
What did you think of Letterman?
It was great. I was so nervous.
I never met him. Just came to studio, had interview. I didn't see him before. I was like waiting in this locker room to call me. I was like walking around. But as soon as I sat on that chair, was fun. He's cool guy. He makes you relax. Everything was perfect.
I know you're good friends with Patrick Rafter. I wonder if you had a chance to talk to him this week about the final? He talked earlier that he was very disappointed. How has your relationship changed or has it changed?
It didn't change. We always going to be good friend. He's a great guy, great tennis player. We didn't talk about final. I can talk, but I don't think he wants to talk.
Is it true that you will get to suit up with the Split soccer team next year? Is that part of the spoils of Wimbledon?
I signed the contract, so I am on the team. My dream was to have five minutes in one game. They not doing great at the moment, but I going to get my chance I think.
If you were nervous before today's match, how do you think you'll feel if you actually get into a game?
I don't know. I mean, I'm going to be even more nervous because is not my sport. When they going to give me the ball, I going to get rid of the ball straightaway, just give it to the closest guy next to me - even if he's from the other team.
Are you any good?
I can play. I can move around. I don't know how good, but it's okay.
What position will you play?
Attack. If you do something bad in defense, then you get a goal. Is not good. In attack, you can't do something too bad. You can miss the goal. But I rather be up there.
What's the name of the team?
Everybody in the sport loves you you're the most fun-loving guy around. I'd like to ask you a serious question. I'd like a serious answer, if you wouldn't mind. Your win at Wimbledon was so spectacular, went far beyond the sport. Afterwards in the moment you referred to the linesmen at Wimbledon at a faggot. Many in our culture just took that as a slur or a put-down. Could you talk about that and do you understand why it was something people took offense with?
I had that problem. They told me sometimes when I go in the preference, I say, "I play like a faggot." They told me not to say any more. They call.
I don't want to offend anybody with that. I don't have anything against homosexual or anybody. Just that's my expression, how I say. I didn't mean anything bad when I said to him that he's like faggot. I can apologize to him, whatever, but I didn't mean anything bad with that. If somebody has something against, it's not my problem. I have nothing against anybody. I never going to say that. I can say I play like a woman.
It's even worse (laughter). I have to find a word. I have to find. You know, in English, it's tougher. I going to have to find the word and then I have to start saying that word, how I play, like something. We say "like something" at the moment till I find the exact nice word that doesn't offend anybody, you know, any groups. I swear on the court in Indianapolis, some religious group, they call. Everything what I say, everybody complaining, this group, that group. I can't please anybody. There's the problem.
I have nothing against those people. Just that's the thing I say. I not going to say any more.
Is your father here?
He's enough of tennis for him, you know. His heart is good, so let's keep it that way.
You've had a lot of problems in the first round in this tournament historically. Were you worried that that might happen again?
Actually, I didn't even think till this morning when I read in the newspaper that I lost four time in the first round. I lost when I was second seed here, I lost first round. That's in your mind a little bit. Plus when you coming from the Grand Slam victory, play unknown guy, never saw this guy before, wildcard, up-coming, good player, it's not easy. He has nothing to lose, so was not easy. That's why I was a little nervous.
It's good that I won in three sets. I can move forward.
It seemed like when you got into problems, your serve rescued you today with 25 aces. I heard you say on TV you didn't think it was that great.
No, no, my rhythm was not there. A lot of double-fault, a lot of mistake with the first serves. Three or four foot faults. That shows as soon as I start to force my serve, I throw the ball everywhere, then I do foot faults. Usually they call me one foot fault all tournament. Today I got three times, four times. That show that I was not in the best rhythm.
I was surprised when I saw statistic that I serve 25 aces. This is pretty fast court. I think I can do a lot of damage with my serve, which I didn't do today.
People have talked about your serve, are surprised with a bad shoulder you're still able to chalk up so many aces. Can you tell us about your shoulder?
My shoulder, I have a lot of aces, but a lot of pain killers also. Each ace, one pain killer. As soon as I step on the court, I don't want to think about my shoulder because if I lose the match, it's not because of my shoulder. I lost because I lost. I win because I win.
I going to have surgery, like I say. Is bothering me. I can't say it's not bothering me. It hurts. I came here try not to think about my shoulder, try to concentrate about win. As soon as I step on the court, I try to put that out of my mind, my shoulder, just play.
Are you taking pain killers after each match?
Before, you know. Doesn't help me after. I need before. Not hurt so much during.
Justin just left the press room and told us about all his physical problems, including two herniated discs. He said he started doing Yoga and hasn't taken a pill since. The guys are giving him a hard time, but he likes it. Would you consider doing that?
I don't know. They're stretching there a lot. Is not my style, you know. I don't see myself doing sitting there like this (showing Yoga position). Maybe in ten years, but at the moment, I don't think.
Going back to soccer, is there a particular player you admire?
I admire a lot of players. Boban from Croatia, Figo, Zidane, a lot of great players in the world. I like to watch football, soccer, great sport. No. 1 sport in Europe.
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