Goran Says Goodbye
25 June 2004
Lleyton Hewitt, the 2002 Wimbledon champion, sent Goran Ivanisevic, the 2001 champion, into retirement by defeating him 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 today. The match lasted 1 hour 26 minutes, but the time held as little relevance as the score.
It was Goran's golden moment, the day he trod the turf of his beloved Centre Court for the last time, in the event that he had been waiting to play once more ever since he lifted the title as a Wild Card three years ago. That return to London had been frustrated by injury for two years, but here at last was the occasion.
After two victories, Ivanisevic was up against a real contender for this year's championship. He had completed his 600th victory as a professional in the previous round. So all was set for the perfect farewell, and the sun obligingly turned up, too. Somebody up there really does like Goran.
Hewitt, all action and gestures and bellows, won with ease, but Goran and his ailing, aching shoulder did their best to make a match of it. Hewitt was superior in all departments except the obvious one: Goran hit 15 aces to the Australian's 12.
In the middle of the second set, Centre Court resounded to the distinctly un-Wimbledon sound of a football-style chant of "Goran, Goran". The crowd willed one of their most popular heroes to hold serve, play on, give them more of himself.
He tried his best, but a break of serve to put him 4-5 down in the third set left Hewitt to serve for it. He stepped up to the line at 5.17pm and it was all over by 5.19. Goran failed to win a point in that last game, but he had won the hearts of the audience.
After a gracious exchange at the net Hewitt sensibly retired to his chair and quietly packed his bag, while Ivanisevic acknowledged the standing ovation, donned a Croatian football shirt (to a mixed reception) and then raised that famous left arm in a final farewell. He will be missed.