Goran overcomes twin niggle
05 February 2005
Croatia's Goran Ivanisevic overcame the twin intimidation of a niggling hamstring strain and the use of a strange racquet to record a straight-sets 6-4, 6-4 win over Michael Stich of Germany in the feature match in the Cape Town Grand Champions 2005 tournament at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Friday evening.
Near the end of the first set Ivanisevic snapped the strings of his only racquet on court when he leaped high to return a serve. Stich did not take too kindly to Ivanisevic raiding his bag for a racquet. Ivanisevic suffered another setback, this time a measure of sustained torment, when he strained a hamstring in the seventh game of the second set.
In the end it was a matter of grin and bear it as Ivanisevic recorded his first win over Stich on a carpet surface. In the final game Ivanisevic even managed to roll out an underarm serve which helped him to set up match point.
Ivanisevic ground out eight aces in the first set in which both players relied heavily on booming serves. Stich dished out some "ace" treatment to the Croat early in the contest when he reeled out three consecutive aces in the third game.
In his effort to round of the points early Ivanisevic played some unbelievable point-grabbing groundstrokes, some from near impossible angles, to subdue Stich's challenge.
Ivanisevic's plight meant that he had to limit mobility and this spurred him on to draw heavily on his big serve and by the time the second set ended he had added another seven aces to his first-set count. Fans were very much behind Ivanisevic and when he served for the match their agony was prolonged when Ivanisevic surrendered two double faults prior to hammering the final nail in the coffin.
In the doubles encounter the fans were treated to a giggle-a-minute fare by Henri Leconte (France) and Mansour Bahrami (Iran), winners against the all South African pairing of Pietie Norval and Danie Visser.
The doubles competition is a one set affair, which is decided by a championship tiebreaker if scores are tied at the end of the set. As it turned out the tiebreaker was required when the teams produced a 6-6 scoreline.
Bahrami was a veritable bag of tricks and Leconte offerings were aimed more at crowd participation but the pair turned on the heat when it mattered.
Ivanisevic downs Cash
07 February 2005
Cape Town - Power-hungry Goran Ivanisevic wrapped up the Cape Town Grand Champions 2005 tournament at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Sunday night with a scintillating display enroute to a 4-6 6-2 10-7 victory over Pat Cash.
Ivanisevic, the 33-year-old Croatian, sportingly fulfilled his final singles obligation despite a hamstring injury, which severely limited his mobility and he had to rely on that legendary tool - the rocket-like serve.
Cash, the 39-Australian, briefly flirted with the big serve and he slammed a fair share of aces, but his biggest contribution to the entertainment was a masterful serve and volley game that would have done any player proud on the current international world tour.
Like most opponents in Ivansevic's heyday, return of serve was always a hazardous occupation and Cash had limited success despite some brave attempts, which earned him several rounds of applause.
Ivanisevic's racquets once again could not stand the heat and for the second time in the tournament his strings gave up on him and he had to raid Cash's bag to continue his all-power onslaught midway through the second set.
With the big serve in tow, Ivanisevic was never in trouble in the championship tie-break, although he slowly clawed his way back from an initial 5-1 deficit to a 8-7 margin. Two service games later Cash was history as he caught a sniff of the fluff wafting past his trademark bandana.
Michael Stich, the 36-year-old German who won 6-7 (3), 7-6, 10-8, was fully extended by Mats Wilander, who at age 40 years, was the 'elder statesman' at the tournament.
It was an absorbing encounter in which Wilander, never one to release the pressure at any stage, gave the younger German as good as he got.
In the resultant tiebreak to decide the winner, Stich went for broke and since fortune favours the brave, Wilander was found wanting at the end.