Goran Ivanisevic Interview

Interview with Goran Ivanisevic
G. IVANISEVIC/P. Rafter
6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 2-6, 9-7
9 July 2001

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Interviewers - black
Goran - sage.

Good afternoon, everybody. We'll take first question, please, for Goran.

Worth the wait?

It was. This is, I don't know. I think I'm dreaming. I don't think somebody is going to wake me up and tell me, "Man, you didn't win." I have to go back again. This is so great, to touch the trophy. I mean, I don't even care now, you know, if I ever win a match in my life again. If I don't want to play, I don't play again. This is it. This is end of the world.

You said the same thing when you lost to Caratti, you didn't care if you won another match.
No, I was still hoping. Wimbledon was coming. I say, "Okay, I want to play Wimbledon." I said, "I want to leave proud this place." I'm going to leave -- Jesus, I going to run.

Did you make that deal with the angel you were talking about or could you still play if you want to?
No, nobody came last night. Actually, last night I didn't sleep. Maybe two hours I slept. I woke up 1:30 in the morning. I thought it's 9:00. I see 1:30. Okay, let's go sleep back. 3:00, 4:00, I was so nervous. And nobody came, no angels, nobody.
I can play. I can play. I going to play. I don't care anymore. This is just -- this is what I was waiting all my life. Finally, you know, I was always second. The people respect me, but second place, you know, is not good enough. And finally I am a champion of Wimbledon. I won.
This is everything for me. You know, my dreams came true. Whatever I do in my life, wherever I go, I going to be always Wimbledon Champion.

You looked to the heavens on the first three match points, as if asking for help. You didn't on the fourth.
I was asking, but I couldn't put the serve in, you know. I thought I was tossing ball so high. But my both arm was so heavy. The one, I couldn't toss the ball. This one was like so stiff.
I knew I going to be one, two double-faults. Third one, unbelievable serve. He put the return of the match. I hit a great volley, and he hit a lob. I say, "No, no, no, this is not true."
And then I say, "Okay, fourth match point, just put that second serve, doesn't matter where. Maybe he's going to miss." And he did it. I was like, "Wow, great." Couldn't believe the ball was going into the net.

(Inaudible)?
This is the biggest thing. Come on a Monday next year, first match, perfect.

When you were broken at 4-2 in the fourth set, controversial point there, can you go over that with us, what you thought should have happened?
First of all, that game, I was 30-Love up. I play some stupid shots. I make myself in trouble. Then first foot fault. Hit great serve. He missed it. First foot fault all tournament. That ugly, ugly lady, she was really ugly, very serious, you know. I was like kind of scared. Then I hit another second serve, huge. And that ball was on the line, was not even close. And that guy, he looks like a faggot little bit, you know. This hair all over him. He call it. I couldn't believe he did it.
Just, you know, in two seconds, I won point twice and I'm down 4-2. Then I got little crazy, you know.

How did you keep from letting that affect you, as it has so many times in the past?
But this is final. I lost my serve also after at 5-2. But I was calm already. I had to. I say, "Okay, now, this is finish, 4-2, you are two sets to one up, you have to calm down. This is your last chance. You going to win it. You just have to keep cool. You can't afford to, you know, be crazy in Wimbledon final."
If I would be another couple of games crazy, I'm gone. So I just kept my mind. Just say, "Okay, now you going to win your serve." Fifth set. I was just keeping that.

When you arrived this morning at the All England Club, did you expect such an atmosphere on the Centre Court?
No, this is just too good. I don't think it's ever going to happen in the history. I mean, this is great, you know. So many Australian fans, Croatians. I mean, like a football match. And was great. I never enjoy more play tennis than today. It was Wimbledon final, and the crowd was just too good.

If I have it right, the Croatian kingdom was founded in something like 1044. How do you think this day ranks with the other great days in Croatia's history?
I don't know. It's going to be great. I think tomorrow is going to be at least 100,000, 150,000 people waiting for me in Split. I don't think anybody receive such a big welcome ever coming. So is one of the biggest day for Croatia, sports-wise.

You talked about your basketball friend on court.
It was my good friend. He died '93. Then I said, I went to his funeral just before Wimbledon, I say I going to dedicate that Wimbledon to him, you know. Then, unfortunately, I played pretty badly. I lost third round.
Sunday before the tournament, my father brought me some newspapers. And in one newspaper was his poster in the middle, like to remember him, you know, eight years ago when he died. So I ripped it off and I put it on the wall. I said, "This must be destiny. This is it." I never read this kind of newspaper. It just was there, him. I put it on the wall, and everything was going smoothly, and I won it.
I want to dedicate that victory to him, you know. It was really nice.

Was he your best friend?
He was not my best friend, but he was my good friend. He was one of the greatest basketball player in Europe ever.

Did you know that Ken Rosewall had lost four finals? Any thought on that?
Yeah, I just heard that ten minutes before I went on the court, you know. They were talking, you know. If I going to be Ken Rosewall, I going to win this time. I say, "Okay, nice, hopefully I don't join Ken Rosewall in this (inaudible) lose final. I just want to win."
But I was just kind of sure, you know, it just has to be me. Everything was going first time in my life this Wimbledon - I have luck against Tim when rain came. Everything was like going kind of my way. Be too disappointed.

Did 911 come out at all?
No, no, no, he was there. He was sitting, watching. Didn't have to, you know. I lost my mind, but I was okay because I was two bad calls in one point and I lose the serve. But everything was under control.

Did you see McEnroe at all after the match?
No, no. Good for him I didn't see him. But he was very nice today, actually. You know, I heard before the match, he was talking, everything nice he talked about me.
But I don't want to talk about. I'm very disappointed the guy who always look up as my hero, idol, everything what he did was always perfect to me. To come out, to say such a thing, that's not -- I don't know, is nothing too much to say about how the way he is. It's just too sad. But that's him, and who cares.
But, you know, also he came to me six days ago in the locker room. He say, "Man, you playing good. I'm really happy for you. You can do it."
Then after three days, he goes and say I have one shot, I'm bad, and this. This must be he's idiot, you know.

How was your shoulder during the game?
Today was very stiff. My serve was not working very well. I said, "Not today, please, God. Any other day, but not today. I need the serve today." So I took some painkillers. I go to the massage. Was much better after. This weather, I don't like this weather. It's like humid, and is no sun, is a lot of cloud. I like when is hot, is much better for my shoulder.

If the All England Club had not offered you a wildcard, would you have played the qualifiers?
Yes. Then Mr. John Lloyd say I wouldn't qualify, you know (laughter). What else to do, you know? I had to. I was prepared for everything, you know. But I was hoping that I think I deserve it, you know, after so many good memories here and so many good results. I think they look at that and they gave me the wildcard.

How many times you sat and watched someone else go through the trophy presentation, talk about being in it and holding a cup instead of a plate?
That was the first time I didn't go first, you know. I was surprised. I wanted to go first. He said, "No, no, no, no, you are second." I say, "Oh, good." Because I am used to going first, take the plate (bowing).
Today, I can't believe I'm going there and going to take the trophy. So many great names on that trophy. It's great, you know. I always see these guys kissing the trophy, lifting the trophy.
Can't get better. Biggest thing ever happen to me.

Can you tell us what was the key factor in this match?
I think the fifth set. Actually, if you look, every time who start to serve first in all four sets won the set. So I was scared. I said to myself, "You have to win that game at 5-2, and then you start to serve first, you going to win the fifth set." When I lost, I say, "Man, is going to start to serve first, maybe I going to lose now."
But I think was the key couple of games. I think was 5-All when he didn't put one first serve in. I have 15-30, and didn't do it. And then after two game after, he had Love-30, and twice second serve. So I came up with some good volleys, good second serve. I said, "If I win that game, I going to win the match."
He got tight on 15-40. I mean, that second serve was going so slow. I was surprised. I was expecting maybe big second serve. Then he came up with some slow. Then I hit a good return. But that game I hit some good returns.

You saved your best serving starting with the second game of the final set. Did you change something in your toss or the way you were hitting the ball?
No. Maybe my arm got a little loose. I throw the ball a little higher. I start to get nervous, I toss the ball very low, you know. I'm going too quick, you know, and then everything's going to the net.
I tossed the ball a little higher, I got my rhythm back. I was just saying to myself, "Just keep your serve, you know. If you serve well, he's going to give you chances." That's what I did, you know. I was serving better and better. And my return felt better.

What does this mean for your father? What did he say to you?
I mean, poor guy, you know. I don't think he will take it, another plate. I mean, he had to. But everything, you know, we all went through together since I was young, everything together. Three times Wimbledon together. This one is just, you know... We got shit together, you know. They're giving me bad time and him, you know, like I should stop.
Now, you know, we won together. This was all together. I played on the court, but he was the big support and he always believe I could do it.

Did you hit more aces or took more pain killers?
I took a lot of pain killers this week, but I think I hit more aces.

After the first round, you said you would make the decision regarding your shoulder after Wimbledon. Maybe it's early, but what's next? How do you see the future of your tennis career?
Now it's interesting, you know. Now I'm into The Masters, which is going to take place in Sydney. So I going to play. I going to have operation after World Championship in Sydney, definitely.

Did you have a special plan for this match?
No plans, you know. I just go there, try to serve well and try to put as many returns I can because is a great volleyer, and you have to return well if you want to beat him.

What are you going to do the next hours with the trophy?

They took it away. I took my pictures with the trophy, with my father, with my coach. This is going to stay next to my bed for rest of my life.

But not in the bed?
Not in the bed. Different thing in the bed.

You just won half a million pounds, which you probably didn't expect a couple of weeks ago. Are you going to treat yourself to anything?
I don't know. Probably I would. I going to do something. I going to buy something because I deserve it, you know. Because I always wanted maybe new car, new boat. You can't buy just like that, because I didn't do anything. I didn't deserve it, in my opinion.
So now I did deserve it, and I have to do something. I going to do something that I going to remember this day forever. Maybe I going to probably put tattoo here (pointing to his chest), "Wimbledon 2001."

Did the early start today prevent you from watching the Teletubbies?
No, no, I watch it this morning. Can't miss it. Five minutes this morning, and everything was under control.

You were interrupted earlier when someone asked you, "Will you be back to defend your title?" Is that an important thing for you?
Yeah, always wanted to see how is that when you come next year, defending champion, step on the Centre Court first. Nobody playing on that, only you, first one. I want to experience that. I don't care if I win or lose, but I just want to experience, go there and be a defending champion on that Monday, first man there.

Could you just take us back 12 months, I remember you walking in the champion's parade. I remember afterwards you said you didn't feel like you belonged there. Can you talk about the difference you feel now?
I mean, belong there? You see guys winning six, seven times there, all these great names, great players. I felt like a little down because I lost first round. But kind of I was hoping that one day I can put my name on the trophy, you know, which I really think I deserve all these years. So it was a good time, good thing I stayed.
I stayed for four days actually doing nothing in London because of that. I was very proud to walk with all these champions on the court. So now is paying off. Now I am one of them.

Did it take you bottoming out in your tennis career for you to have the mental fortitude to win today?
I don't know. Yeah, I mean, everybody talking about my mental, if I'm capable. I was always listening, if I'm capable mental to do it. But, I mean, I cannot be eight years, nine years in Top 10 if I'm mentally not good enough. Like with Tim, three days' match, that's all mental things.
I can be a little wild on the court, unpredictable. But I'm mentally actually very, very well, very good. And I think that's why I won this year the Wimbledon, because is a lot to do with the mental stuff.

Did it piss you off when we in the media would say, "He's the best player who never won a Grand Slam"?
Yeah, I always waited for that moment when I going to come in and you not going to ask me that question again, you know. Now can I say I'm Wimbledon Champion. No more that question, you know.
Actually, nine years, you know, waiting for that, since '92. All these finals. Always, "Goran, when you going to do it? Are you ready? Is this your time?" Now it is. I am the Wimbledon Champion, and you have to change your questions now.

Can you say something about Pat's reaction at the end of the match? What did he say to you? What did he say?
Actually, I didn't know what he said. I didn't listen - not because I didn't want, because I was out of nowhere. He said, "Congratulation." He happy for me, because he good friend, he one of the nicest guy on the tour.
I mean, it's good that I play him because he's really nice guy. If I would lose today, at least some good guy wins the tournament, you know, friend of mine.

Could you give him some advice? He's talking about the idea of having the six months off. Does he play like a man who needs a break?
I don't think so he needs any break. I mean, he's very fit. But that's his decision, you know. Who knows what going into his head - you know, maybe the mentally, who knows. But he is the guy who can play forever there, you know, and he's great to watch.

When you walked off losing the first round in Australia this year, could you ever have imagined that you would win Wimbledon?
No even.

How did it happen?
I don't know, I was there, lose first round. After two days, I'm back home, you know, playing challenger, 100,000, in Germany, which helped me a lot, watching on TV the guys who are playing the finals there.
Now I am in the position that I won Wimbledon. I don't know. I don't know what happened, you know. But is just that, you know, just something clicked. Since then I start to play better tennis. But I made this breakthrough and came here.

The first final you played with Agassi a few years ago, how do you think you've evolved as a player?
Is a long time ago. I think I didn't change too much, you know. Maybe I more mature. I learn a few things. You know, I am more calm, you know, and I can control myself.
Nine years ago, I was losing too much, you know, losing my mind, I was going up and down. At one point I lose three games, you know. Today, you know, this point at 3-2, when I lost it, I didn't -- I mean, I lost the set, but I was still there, my mind was there and ready to play fifth set.

Can you tell us why the shirt didn't come off today at the end?
Why the shirt? Because no more shirts to put, so I had to keep that one.

What was it like walking out onto the Centre Court with everybody going crazy?
It was the best moment in my life. You cannot describe that. Just everybody going nuts there with the flags. It's just great atmosphere. Was the best atmosphere ever Wimbledon has had. I thought I'm playing Henman.
You know, there were more supporters from Australia than Englishmen. They were really great -- and my supporters. This is great. This is really greatest atmosphere ever happen here, and I don't think this can be matched ever.

Will you become more religious after today?
Why? Should I? I believe in God, and he helped me.

You're Catholic or do you have a Goran religion?
Depends, you know. I have a lot of religions. No, I'm Catholic. I don't have a Goran religion. I just believe that if all the Gorans are quiet and they want to play, like I always said, I'm the very tough player to beat, you know, because nobody can expect what I going to do next.

At the very moment of victory, did something particular flash through your mind, a precise thought? Did you say, "Thank God"?
All my career went through my mind, from the first moment till three Wimbledon finals, everything like flash back in my head. I just couldn't believe it's happen. I didn't know where to go. I went up to my father, to my coach.
I mean, I could go all day on that Centre Court. Nobody will take me out. I was just too happy. Everything was going...

Did you utter a phrase or anything like that?
No. I going to start to think tomorrow. When I wake up , I going to start to think, "Is that true or not? I am Wimbledon Champion?" Then I going to start to think. Now I am still nervous and exciting. I still cannot believe it's true.