Goran Ivanisevic Interview - Day 9
G. IVANISEVIC/M. Safin, 7-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6
Interviewers - black
Goran - sage.
MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Marat Safin just said it's virtually impossible to play against you the way you're playing at this moment. How do you feel about what you've just done?
I don't know. Never happier in my life, you know, because all these other three times I was in the final, I was kind of like expected to go in the final, semifinal. You know, '92, '94, '98, people, they were tipping on me.
This year, I'm playing the best tennis ever I played in Wimbledon. The way I'm serving, and from the back today I just played unbelievable tennis. I was running a lot, but paid off.
There was a feeling among some people when you were 15-30 at 4-All in the fourth that if you didn't win that game, maybe you wouldn't win the match. It looked as if you were tiring. Did you feel vulnerable at that point?
I was a little tired because all these four matches, I didn't run so much. Against Roddick, he also stayed back. If I return, he was hitting all the winners, I was missing. With Safin, we were playing more rallies, you know, long rallies. I surprise myself the way I play from the back.
But, you know, I just say to myself, "Just don't rush yourself, stay in, you going to have one chance." I had at 5-4. It was hell of a game. At 30-All, the way he dived, hit that backhand, is too good.
But tiebreaks I played great. I didn't miss one first serve. Everything, all these crucial, key points, I play very good.
Sergio Tacchini is not happy because taking off your shirt is not getting any publicity.
Maybe I should make tattoo "Tacchini," if they pay me enough.
How can you describe that you play such good tennis? Is it because there's less pressure than in the years before?
It is less. You know, when you come to the quarters, pressure is getting higher because now I expect from myself that I can win the tournament. Because the way I'm playing, I can believe that, you know. The way I'm serving, the way I'm playing from the back, the way I hit the volleys, I'm playing as good as all other eight guys left here on the tournament.
I think is going to be even more and more pressure now.
Marat just said that he'd be very pissed at you if you lose The Championships. Will Goran II be pissed off at Goran I if he loses The Championships?
"Pissed" is a tough word. They going to be disappointed. Can't be pissed after such a great Wimbledon I have so far, you know. They going to be disappointed because all two, they actually are perfect together. They really playing the great tennis ever. They going to be disappointed.
Maybe is the last chance for me. Now I come so far, you know. To stop will be big disappointment. So I don't want to stop. I don't thinking about stopping in the semifinal. I want to go further.
Rafter was surprised, a lot of players have been surprised, at your tournament, given this past year, even the year before that. Can you talk about what the previous six months, 12 months leading into this tournament was like?
Actually, this year is not so bad. You know, I played bad Australia quallies. I almost tanked the first round. Then I said to myself, "You stop or you try to play this year for yourself just to see if going; if not, then you stop." Then I went to challengers. I had a good couple of tournaments in the States. I play good Indian Wells. I won two rounds. I lost to Kafelnikov. Key Biscayne. Then I did the best move in my life. I took one month off, you know, because I couldn't play of my shoulder on clay. I took off. Now is paying off, the hard work, the belief.
The way I play, you know, I say to myself, "Has to break through somewhere." Couldn't be the best place. Wimbledon is the best place for me to break through. Now I'm in the semis which is, I don't know, is like a dream.
Describe your emotions at the end.
I didn't know what to do. I knew that Tacchini send some more shirts for me, so I could afford to throw, you know, the shirts. I step on the chairs. I didn't know where to go, what to do. I couldn't throw the racquet because I still have three racquets. I have to keep that.
What are your thoughts on either of your potential semi opponents?
I never beat both of those guys. Never beat Henman, never beat Federer. I think is going to be Henman, I don't know why. He's looking better at the moment. But is going to be more pressure, you know, all England. Today I was watching on TV. They were asking people if they should have Henman holiday on Sunday if he wins. So is going to be huge, huge expectation on his back, you know.
That's good for me. If I play him, he's going to get nervous because he sees his chance. When you have like four guys left, everybody sees their chance, you know. I see my chance. He's going to do his chance. Him or Federer, whoever comes.
Is going to be tough, you know. But if I continue to play like this, if the two Gorans are there, if he beats me, then is too good. But the way I play, is going to be tough for everybody.
If he's there, same. I just have to - like I say a couple days ago - worry how I play, not how they play. If I play good, is tough anybody to beat me the way I play at the moment.
Are you doing anything to protect your shoulder?
Today I felt actually after one serve, I felt, I don't know, I hurt like little bit. Then I took some painkillers. For a moment, I lost the rhythm of my serve. After a while, everything was working fine.
Are you surprised that you've made it this far? Do you consider your story of getting this far as good a story as some of the great stories of this tournament, Capriati, or Sampras being knocked out?
I mean, surprise? I can be surprised the way last year was. But I think people should learn that with me you never know, you know. I'm not surprised because I'm the guy who can make up one day and beat anybody, or can stop or can lose to some strange people, which I did, you know, past years.
But is great, is great. I can't believe. Still I can't believe. But I was hoping that this is going to come one day.
Did you think about walking away from the sport at any time in the past couple years?
I was thinking. But then I said, "Okay, maybe is going to be your last year, but you just try your best." Finally playing for myself, you know, which is strange for me. I never play for myself in my life. I always play for somebody. Now I'm playing for myself, which is just beautiful.
At Queen's you lost to Caratti, a small guy with no serve. You were playing on grass 15 days ago. What happened in these two weeks?
I don't know. I don't know what happened.
Which Goran was playing there?
Some strange one. Actually, I came there, you know, after one month not playing tennis. Maybe I say, "Okay, now I have to do well on grass." He came from quallies. He played okay match. I play terrible match, trying to put too much pressure on myself. I have to play well, I have to do well. I was very confused.
The grass in Queen's is completely different than this grass, bouncing high, it's like hard court. I don't know. When they open this gate on Monday, something was shining, you know, something happened, and I can't explain. Hopefully can happen every week like this, you know.
You said you were playing for somebody else. Can you say who that was?
When I start in my career, my sister was very sick. I play for her because we didn't have money. So better I do, she can go to doctors and heal herself. Now everything is fine and she's great.
Then the war came. Then I have motivation to play for my country, for the people who are fighting for my country. Then that was over also.
Then I just find myself, "What to do now?" I was finding to play for somebody, but I couldn't. Then I say, "Man, after 12 years on the tour, I think you deserve to play for yourself a little bit, give yourself a little bit, you know, for all this hard work you did." So now it's paying off.
Did you have to ask the All England Club for the wildcard?
I asked them. Good they gave it to me. They happy. I think I'm the first wildcard made the semifinals. It's nice, you know.
Because you're playing for yourself, are you mentally stronger or more focused during this Slam than previous ones, previous times?
I am. I'm very quiet. Very focused, not losing my mind. Really I can't describe. It's really peace inside me. Even when I lost that set today, I said, "No worries, just stay calm." Nothing is bothering me. I got warning because of stupid, I said this F word - but is okay.
Is this the end of the road for the 911 guy then?
911 is there. He has to be there.
He comes to watch, you know. Buys the tickets, comes to watch. Nobody can kick him out. If he has to come, he comes. Hopefully he doesn't have to.
If they didn't give you the wildcard, were you prepared to play the qualifying?
I was prepared to play.
And they gave you immediately?
No, they gave it on Monday, you know, before I play with Caratti. I was like waiting, worrying, "What if they don't give me?" It's kind of stress, you know. All this year, I was like hoping, waiting for wildcards. People, they were giving me wildcards. It's like worrying, waiting if this guy is going to give me wildcard, that guy.
But I was like hoping, you know, for three-time Wimbledon finalist, I think I deserve the last shot. It's beautiful. It's like great story, you know. They gave me wildcard, I am in the semis. Who knows what can happen.
Is it helpful that your father is there watching?
Yeah, is great. You know, my father was not here last year because he has problems with heart. Doctors told him, "Don't come." I think from this ten years, I gave him a lot of troubles, the horrors what I produced to him when I was young kid.
He came. It's great to see him there. He's quiet, you know. I think he's suffering a lot inside. But it's great. Great support. My father was always the number one supporters of mine. Is great to see him there.
Any chance we'll see you next year here?
Sure, why not. Hopefully I can have a nice ending here, good season, then I have to do surgery. Hopefully can still play.
On TV they were getting a little philosophical and said most geniuses are flawed, that's why they're so interesting. Are you flawed?
What is "flawed"?
Have major weaknesses.
Everybody has weaknesses. But the tennis, at the moment, a lot of guys, they playing like machines, this, this, that. You can't see, you know, some fun on the court. I'm the guy who can play a lot of shots, sometimes stupid shots. But nobody plays between the legs on important points. I do that. I don't know why. I just like to do it, you know. That's me. It's always going to be me.
The between-the-legs half volley, is that 911?
It's a tough shot to do it. It's one of my best shots. When the ball comes so quick, you have to react somehow. I play '98 final Wimbledon that shot. Today I play twice. I won the point once. That's a great shot. If you miss, you know, it can hurt a lot.
Do you think that's why the British public love you so much, because you're a character?
I think so. I had great support today. It was great. I felt like I going to maybe ask for the English passport soon. Is great. Just love me.
I love to play here. The feeling when you step on centre court, you can't describe that.
Suppose a miracle won't happen here and you lost in the semifinal, would you still look back on this tournament as one of your most exciting at Wimbledon, even though you reached three previous finals, or would there be a terrible anticlimax after all this excitement?
No, it will be very disappointed. But I will be very proud of myself the way I played here, the way -- what I achieved.
But I don't want to think that I going to lose on Friday, you know, because I don't believe I going to lose. I'm strongly believe maybe this is the year. Guys say, "This is going to be your year." After three finals, nobody believed - even I didn't believe.
I said, "Okay, man, you finished." Now I believe that I can do it. Who knows, you know, strange thing happens.
What has been the lowest point of the last couple years?
Lowest point was the Australian Open. I fly 24 hours to stay there and tank the first round of quallies, then go back after three days flying again 24 hours. That's painful. That's God's punishment: "You going to fly there, go back." That was killing me.
Those things you shouldn't do. It was really a low, low point, humiliation. I heard people saying, "Why is he doing that?" I don't know why I did that. After that I woke up - and I am awake, very awake now.
Supposing it's Henman, are you saying that the crowd support and pressure will actually help you because you feel it will put him on edge?
I don't expect too much support if I play him because he's a really Brit, so is going to be tougher. But I saw him yesterday. On the big points, he can get tight. He may throw some double-faults. Everybody gets tight. But, you know, when you play home, the biggest tournament ever, and you can suddenly, you know, win the tournament. All England is talking with Henman winning, losing, you know, holidays, all this stuff. You have to feel pressure. We see how he's going to handle that. But he has to win today first.
How much will that affect you, if you don't have the support of the crowd?
No, I just have to focus what I have to do there. I going to have my supporters for sure, but not like I had today. I don't expect if I play Tim.
But is not going to affect me. Just I have to motivate myself some other way. It's going to be fine.
If you win, how long will the celebration be in Croatia?
I don't know. Actually, it's strange. Before I came here, you know, they were giving me shit, how I practicing, I should practice six hours, maybe I should stop, why I'm going here.
Now it's like today was not one car in Split when I play. Everybody watching. Now everybody like me again, I am a hero again. That's sport.
But is going to be celebration for long, long time.
You say you felt you always represented Croatia and felt you had to during the troubles. Today you were playing a Russian. We know where Russia stood in those troubles. Did you take any of that onto the court today?
No. Today was Wednesday, nice day. I didn't think about Russia, about Croatia. Today I thought about myself. I play for myself.
What was your sister's illness?
She had this cancer of somewhere (pointing to throat and chest area). I don't know exactly. But some kind of cancer.
And she's fine now?
What's her name?
My sister, Srjdana - like my father but a little different, with A.