Fans Farewell Irreplaceable Ivanisevic
25 June 2004
As Goran Ivanisevic bowed out of his final Wimbledon Championships to Lleyton Hewitt today, the Centre Court crowd were saying goodbye to one of the most colourful players that has ever graced the All England Club.
Ivanisevic is a rare character who will be sadly missed by the Club, the fans and the media, and it seems these feelings will be reciprocated. “I going to miss everything,” said Ivanisevic after his third-round defeat. “I going to miss the guys that I spent so many years with. I going to miss serving an ace on 15-40, 30-40. I going to miss talking to the umpire – sometimes bad, sometimes good. I going to miss everything. I gave all my life into this sport.”
He didn’t seem to care about the manner of his exit at all. “Today I played against a guy who was just playing too good,” Ivanisevic said. “But was worth it, these two years of the therapy and struggling, to come back here and to finish my career in Wimbledon. Best place, best court. I couldn’t ask for better.”
The Croatian was a three-time runner-up in the Men’s Singles – to Agassi in 1992 and Sampras in 1994 and 1998 – but finally won the prize he coveted the most with his titanic battle against Pat Rafter in 2001. His only slight regret from the past 15 years is that he never made it to No. 1 in the world.
“That’s maybe the only thing I can regret in my career,” he said. “But to be No. 2 behind Pete Sampras, for me that’s the biggest honour because he is the best player in the history of tennis. And that year when I was No. 2, he won three Grand Slams, so I didn’t have any chance to be No. 1 – only if I shoot him, and I couldn’t do that.”
Now retirement beckons for Ivanisevic, and although he’ll miss so much he knows the time is right to rest. “Right now I just want to relax. When I wake up, no more therapy, no more exercises, no more painkillers, no more nothing. I just want to enjoy and be proud of myself, everything I did in the last 15 years.”
The Championships will miss Ivanisevic’s talent, temperament and humour, and will hope that someone can fill his shoes in the years to come. “I think you should wait for another Goran,” Ivanisevic said. “Every generation has own Goran.”
This one will be difficult to replace.