Goran Ivanisevic Interview

Interview with Goran Ivanisevic
Wednesday, 24th June 1998
G Ivanisevic bt G Stafford 6-3 6-3 6-2

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Interviewers - black
Goran - sage.

Are you happy with your game?
Yes, I played good, I think, even when I lost those break points, I kept my mind, and twice 0-40, then he came back ahead, then deuce, and I broke him. The way I served and volleyed I think was pretty good.

Goran, this was almost a match you had to win because of the poor results you've had in Grand Slams, the last four or five Grand Slams. Do you think this was a match you absolutely had to win in order to maintain any semblance of confidence?
Oh, yes, I felt very nervous before the match and yesterday when they cancelled me, actually I felt a little happy, one more day, you know. I mean, you know how I feel from five Grand Slams, win one round and then Wimbledon comes, and a lot of people expect me to do well, and I didn't play well lately on the Grand Slams, and it's nice to win a round, but it doesn't please me, you know, one round.

In all honesty, if you were on the seeding committee here, would you have seeded Goran Ivanisevic?
That's a tough question. Yes and no, you know. The way I played lately, no. But the way I play recent years here, yes.

Which is more important?
More important? The way I play recent years, because I could play anybody, you know. I can play Pete, if I wouldn't be a seed, anybody, and that's a tough match, you know. I can beat anybody when I play good here, and I can lose to some seed when I play bad here. So you never know with me.

Do you think one victory might provide you with a springboard for a good tournament here?
Anything is possible, you know. It's good that I am 14th seed, and with my later results, nobody -- you know, not really, not too many people rate me as any favourite, or anything to do here. So I feel good, you know, the way things are going with my tennis, and anything is possible.

Do you prefer not to be rated too highly?
In this moment, yes.

Why is that?
I just feel like that, you know. I dropped my ranking. I came to the stage, now I need that people start not to believe in me, and then I like when I have to prove to somebody, you know, that I can be good again, in the top five, where I belong.

You could go down in tennis history as one of the greatest athletes never to achieve great success in tennis. Would that bother you?
That will bother me, but it's not -- it's never late for me. I'm still 26, and I believe I can do it.

Have you done any soul searching about this slump you've been in for quite some time now?
I tried to realise what will happen, but first, I think during the last year, when I started to play well, and a couple of important tournaments indoors, and then I couldn't play, two months I couldn't play before because of my shoulder, and then to come back, a lot of people are hungry, a lot of players are coming and they want to win, and I came to that stage where I'm -- when I had to push myself more than before, and sometimes I didn't want to do it. So now I get my -- not the confidence, but now I have more fun to play tennis. Before, a couple of months, I was forcing myself to practise, to play a match. I play a match because I was in the draw, not because I want to be on the tournament and play tennis, just because I entered a tournament. I was in the draw, and now nothing else to do, let's play, you know. That's what was going to happen. If you have that attitude, you cannot win anything.

Does it make it easier, Goran, being at Wimbledon, knowing how you feel about the tournament, the success you've had here, that you feel a different mental attitude here?
Now I feel better, even with -- it doesn't matter, Wimbledon or not, with that attitude that I had before, when I come here -- last year I came with that attitude here, and even when I play final of Queen's, when I came here and didn't win a place and lost to Norman, a guy who's first time on the grass. But this year, I mean, I've felt better. I'm feeling much better, much happier, and I have a desire to play and practise, and I feel inside of me that it's coming, and just it's a question of time when I'm going to break through and make a good result.

Did you ever kind of doubt yourself, your ability to overcome that, did it enter your mind?
Sometimes, but not really. I know what I'm capable of to do. I know why people like to watch me, you know, because it's always a thriller, and they watch me and they kind of expect everything, you know, from nothing to great tennis. So I'm already used to that.

Do you enjoy your image of the bad boy?
Bad boy, good boy, you know, I enjoy who I am, you know. I don't think you have any more personalities in the tennis. It's finished, and I enjoy who I am and where I am.

Two years ago, I remember you were mentioning you are travelling to some tournaments with a priest person, spiritual guidance, a friend of yours as well. Is that something you're still doing, or are you still doing that?
Not a few tournaments. He only travelled here because he's my friend.It's not because of the spiritual thing, and I just like to go into the church and believe in God, but he is my friend and he wanted to see Wimbledon. So I gave him a chance to see Wimbledon, and that's it. He didn't stay with me. I saw him only during the matches. Not because I believe that he's going to help me to win Wimbledon

So he's not with you this year, or anything?
No, he's my friend and I had nice talks to him when I go home, but it's nothing to do with the spiritual things

Now that this match is over, let's get to the really important stuff: Croatia in the World Cup.
That's very important. So far so good, and now it's Argentina, and then I would like to play England, you know.

Why?
Because they really playing bad, and --

If you get to the second round of the World Cup, how would you attack England?
Attack England? I mean, the defence where they are is not tough to attack them, you know. It's a lot of holes, so we can sneak with our attackers, and if Chuka and if Bobam plays, it helps a lot of the Croatian game, mid-field. So I think -- but I'm scared with this Argentina match a little bit, because we have to win. If you draw, they're first in the group and then we play Romania, which are the better team, and the way they play, I don't think they suit our game. But I always believe when it's one game, it's always 50/50, it doesn't matter who plays, and anything is possible.

Could you have been a professional soccer player? You're a great athlete. We all recognise how athletic you are. Could you have been a professional football player?
I was, as a young kid, selected in the team in my city, but I already picked tennis, and it was tough, and I don't know, maybe, maybe not.

What would you have played?
I like to play in the attacking. I practised last year with the team in Split, and I love football, and maybe I miss only one or two matches until now in this World Cup.