Goran Ivanisevic Interview

G. IVANISEVIC/T. Henman, 7-5, 6-7, 0-6, 7-6, 6-3
8 July 2001


Interviewers - black
Goran - sage.

MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Goran for you.

How are you feeling?

It's tough to explain. I think this is -- I'm so relieved, you know. Three days' match. I think if I have to play final now, I don't think I win more than three games because just three days' match, you go on the court, off the court. Then first day the rain helped me a lot. Yesterday I think nobody helped rain. On the third day you come, you know, all the emotions, everything, the nerves. Today was match of the nerves, nothing to do with tennis. Who going to have more nerves and guts going to win the match. I think I did it, and I won the match.

Did you feel you were finished Friday, or close to it?
Actually, I started well, you know. I didn't put too many returns. Then suddenly I did three. At 6-5 I won a set. I had a chance in the tiebreaker. My serve let me down. And then I made three bad mistakes, 1-0. Then he just started to play like God, you know. He didn't miss one ball. So 2-1, perfect, rain came, 40-30.
Then I just say, "You have maybe be more aggressive." But my returns, they were going everywhere, you know, I just couldn't control. I just said today, you know, if I can put more returns in, is going to be (inaudible). I think today is just a day that everything clicked together.

Was this more nerve-wracking than any of your three finals?
I think so, yeah. I tell you, three-day match, it looks like cricket, you know, just we didn't have a tea break.

Did you sleep much during these three days?
Not really. I slept badly. Today, yet. Last night I actually slept well. The day before, I slept not very well. I was waking up, you know, every two hours thinking, you know, maybe the clock is not going to go, not going to wake up. I was watching all the time what was the time, 6:00, okay, go back to sleep, 7:00, go back to sleep. I was happy when I woke up. 9:30, I said, "Okay, is enough, get up. Teletubby starts at 10:00 so you have to watch."

John McEnroe said you only have one shot. What have you got to say to him now?
John McEnroe was my idol, you know, all my life. He was lefty; he was the player I always like to watch, you know. Great emotions on the court.
But as a person, I don't think much, too much about him as a person. Not only to say, okay, I have one shot. That makes me genius or that makes the other guy so bad, because to have one shot and be in the final of Wimbledon, win 21 tournament, some of them on clay, you have to be genius, you know, to win with the one shot.
The way he's commentating, giving everybody shit, you know, "This guy is bad. This guy is going to choke. This guy is not good." I mean, nobody is good for him. So, I mean, what to say for Mr. McEnroe? He is a great player, but as a person, I don't think he's -- I don't know. I don't want to talk about him. He's him. Who cares about him? Anyway, he's going to say bullshit about me and about everybody else. Let it be.

Is it your conviction then that had Friday continued, supposing it didn't get dark, that you would have lost the way that game was going at that stage?
Probably. You can never say you can lose. But there was a chance because Tim was playing really good tennis. I couldn't hurt him in any way. My serve was not hurting him. He was returning my serve pretty easy. He was volleying unbelievable. So I didn't do any damage. Then, guy say, "Okay, the rain is here. Let's go home."
Same, you know. You have to have luck. Rafter, he could lose 6-Love in the fifth set against Agassi, but he won that match. Who knows how, but he won it. I was hoping, you know, kind of that story.

People will say maybe that was Tim's best chance. You've been in three finals before, came in here with a wildcard this year, had all the injuries. Do you think that people should prepare for Tim Henman to come back and do very well again?
I think so. He's a great player. He, in my opinion, can win Wimbledon - next year or... Because I don't see -- with Pete leaving, I don't see too many guys beat him on the grass. They all are good players, but not enough good to beat him on the grass. He knows how to play from the back.
Was a lot of expectation from him. They tell him, "You don't play Pete Sampras, you going to be in the final for sure." Nothing for sure is in tennis. Look at me, I'm not sure I'm going to get a wildcard, now I'm in the final. If somebody told me that two months ago, I would tell him, "Man, you're crazy, you're not normal." Now I'm in the final.
So I think he's going to have shot next year or year after because he's capable to win Wimbledon with his game.

You're known as such a pioneer, carrying the flag in the Olympics, your aces. There's a rumor going around Wimbledon that you will be hiring in the future a coach for each of the three Gorans to try and get them under control. Could you please comment on whether that's true or not?
Where you heard that?

It's going all around
What to say on that? Cost me a lot money for that, you know. If I have to have three coaches, a lot of people to travel. So I rather stick with one.

We wondered what Goran 911 was doing on Friday evening. Seemed to go missing a bit.
Actually, I was not panic. I was calm. Actually 911 didn't have to come because I was not crazy on the court. Was just Tim played good tennis - better than me. I was not able to put in this one more step to just hurt him. Nothing to do there.
I just hoping something's going to happen, rain, or I maybe put some more pressure on him. But then rain came, and that was a key moment.

You're the first wildcard to reach a Grand Slam final. How can you describe what that means?
That means everything to me. You know, like I said, if somebody one month ago told me, "Here is the paper to sign that you going to be in the final of Wimbledon, but you have to lose," I say, "Give me the paper, I sign."
But now, you know, I don't want to get another plate. I have already three plates. If some angel comes tonight in my dreams and say, "Okay, Goran, you going to win Wimbledon tomorrow, but you not able to touch the racquet ever again in your life," I say, "Okay, I rather take that and then never play tennis again in my life."

You've had a couple very frustrating nights - although it's ended very happily - because of the weather. Would you be in favour of having the Centre Court covered so the match can continue?
No, I don't think cover Centre Court. Then Wimbledon is not Wimbledon. You have to have rain. You can't expect two weeks without rain in Wimbledon. I was surprised. I thought, "I'm not in London." Sunny, 30 degrees. So you have to have. This is Wimbledon. Going on the court, off the court, next day. But three days, that's a little too much.
Anyway, this is Wimbledon, and that's why this is the biggest tournament. That's why we have fun here.

Would you have preferred to see Sampras or Agassi in the final for the chance to avenge?
I was actually maybe thinking to beat Agassi for in '92. I always said to myself, "I want to have another chance with that '92 final." I could have that. But he lost.
I playing a guy who is good friend of mine. He's a great tennis player. But he say he going to retire. How he going to come to defend his title Monday next year? So it's better that I win, you know. I am available next year on Monday. Nothing better to do, you know.

Tomorrow might be a mental thing on your part. How are you going to deal with it?
It's the final. Is going to be another tough thing. But I have to just go on the court like I did all these previous matches, just try to play my best, give my best. I played a guy who is a great tennis player, won two Grand Slams, but he still wants to win Wimbledon. Last year he came short. I came short three times.
I don't know. Is 50/50. Always final is 50/50. Again, a couple points here, there, is going to decide. I hope is not going to last three days. I hope we going to finish tomorrow

What have you learned from the three finals that can help you tomorrow?
Nothing. Nothing. I don't know what I learn. I learn that I lost, and I want to win. You know, final, every time I approach different, you know. I had chances. So last time I had chances, I didn't take my chances, '98. So hopefully this time, if Pat gives me some chances, I should take it, otherwise is going to be the same story.

You've talked a lot about crazy Goran, 911, everything else. But you've actually been very calm here. Are you surprised by how calm you've been under the circumstances?
Yeah, that's the point. When I'm calm, you guys all surprised why I'm calm. When I'm not calm, you know, it's like, "Okay, is Goran back again."
I don't know. You know, I can snap tomorrow - but I don't think so, because is too important. I'm just having fun, you know. I'm just having fun, pleasing myself, enjoying on the court, having fun. It's great to be fun. Out there, everything is working perfectly. I have to be calm.

Given that Pat has had the edge on you in your most recent meetings, is there any particular problem you see that you will have against him?
Oh, I have to return like I did today. If I return like I did couple of days ago, yesterday, then I going to be in big trouble, because he's a great volleyer. He's not going to give me any free chances, you know. But if I serve well, I just put pressure on him, you know. I come to the tiebreak, usually I come up with some great serves like I did today, I did yesterday, I did day before.
It's a match that I have to just take. When my serve is working, everything is working with that. I just have to hope that shoulder is going to be fine one more match, then it can fall off forever. I don't need it. One more match, one more night, man, it's going to be lovely.

Do you live for the tiebreaker? Is that something you kind of expect in every set?
Nobody live. Is big pressure on tiebreak. Is not easy. People say, "Okay, he's waiting for tiebreak, he's going to hit aces." But you think it's easy to hit ace in tiebreak? Is not, I tell you. Today when I served for the match, my shoulder was 58 kilos heavy. I went to toss the ball. I say, "Man, this is heavy, something's wrong." Is not easy. But usually I'm capable to serve well in a tiebreaker. First tiebreaker in this match, I didn't serve well. Yesterday, I serve better.
Always the tiebreaker is suited the guys who are serving bigger and better, so they always can win some free points on the serve.

What kind of treatment have you been getting on your shoulder?
No treatment. Take some every night like five, six painkillers, and praying, like I said, pray, pray. Hopefully is fine, still here, still serving, still moving.

During your run here, what's the one thing that's been the biggest surprise for you?
That I'm in the final. I don't know what is surprise. Surprise how calm I am, how much fun I am on the court. Inside me, I have really fun, you know. Never had so much fun in Wimbledon ever on the tennis court like I have here. I'm enjoying myself. I'm enjoying to win the point. Even sometimes I enjoy to lose the point, which is stupid, but... With me, everything is different.
You know, just enjoying.

That shot that you hit on your knees the other day, how much have you practiced that?
Actually, I hit first time in my life. You have to fall to hit.
But is a shot that just comes. I am the guy who can hit sometimes some strange shots, behind the leg, you know, in the important points. But that's me, you know.
You know, yesterday, when I was fall, I say, "Okay, you just put your racquet up and hit it." It was better than -- I should actually hit more of those shots. That's the only time I pass him all the match. So maybe I should go on my knees tomorrow and just hit the passing shots.

Have you added any superstitions this go-round at Wimbledon?
Yeah, always. Like I say, I have like ten of those. Then if I don't do win every day, I think I going to lose the match. That's why I make sure that I do all these things. Then if I lose, I lose. But if I lose because of that, I will be very pissed. I have to concentrate.

You crossed yourself, looked to the heavens, when you won the match. Can you tell me what your thoughts where?
First time I cross myself on the match point, I say, "God, if I miss the first serve, I going to hit another big second serve. And, please, be good." So then I hit that. "Okay, no problem. Maybe God is on the lunch, so he didn't see me."
And then deuce, you know, again I hit the huge second serve on the line. Then I say, "Okay, now has to be in."
But, you know, I think God, only Him I'm in the final. He just gave me another chance. He say, "Man, you were so annoying always asking another chance, so, okay, I give another chance. We see, can you do it tomorrow or not?"

Other than God, on your bench, is there anybody there that's been particularly helpful this past two weeks?
Which bench?

Your bench, that watch your matches.
Sure, is my father, who is always supporting. My coach. All these people in the box means a lot to me. They all my support. Those are people who believe in me before I came to Wimbledon all these two years when I've been over. They all believe that I'm good tennis player, that I can do well. Those people, they believe in me. So great support and great help here.

Can your father stand another of your matches?
I don't know, you know. I hope his heart is going to still be okay tomorrow. You know, is a tough one. Hopefully I can win, his heart is okay, so I tell him, "Don't come anymore. You don't need this, this is too much." I really gave him enough trouble for the past 12 years. Hopefully I play for his heart tomorrow.

Any other thoughts on the All England Club giving you the wildcard, taking out now both of the top?
I think they are pissed now. Public Enemy No. 1. I took two English hopes out. "Why we give him the wildcard?"
I tell you, they didn't think I going to be in the final. "Okay, we give him. Last chance for him." But, great for them. Really, I have to thank them a lot because it's really nice. They give me wildcard. In one way they believed me because nobody gives you wildcard if a little bit they don't believe you. They believed me.
Thanks to them, I in the final. Plus I playing good tennis.