Re: Ljubicic: "I would always be more worried about Roger"
An interview with Ivan Ljubicic
Wednesday, June 7, 2006
Q. This will be the fourth time you will be playing Nadal. Extremely close matches, all on hard court. How significnt do you think the clay is going to be in changing the conditions in which the two of you have played?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I don't think there is any doubt that he is a big favorite. I don't think only in the semifinal, but also in the final. I think of four of us left, I think he's definitely the favorite one. Then Roger, then David, then it's me.
I think just by reaching semifinal, I did something incredible. Absolutely, it's going to be zero pressure on Friday for me. And I know that, as you said, we had the three very close matches, but they were all on the hard court. It's gonna be definitely more difficult to hit an ace on clay than on hard court. But also, I'm gonna have more balls to do something with. Because on the hard court, he is playing much more aggressive. That's what I think.
There's no tactic against Rafael. I think Roger showed us in Rome the way to give him trouble. He was pretty close. He had two matchpoints. As close as you can get, actually.
I think that the truth, it's something ‑‑ you cannot be too aggressive, you cannot be too defensive. But, you know, as I said, you know, there's no pressure. Of course I want to win it. Of course I'm gonna try all I have, all my weapons. And I don't want of course any long rallies. I'm going to try to be aggressive because that's, I think, the way I can hurt him.
Q. Looking at it from the distance, what do you think now from your match, Rafael and you in Madrid and Masters Series final when you had two sets and a break and you are at the end, you lose almost unbelievably.
IVAN LJUBICIC: Yeah.
Q. What do you think now about this match, and the way you play?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I was two sets to love up. I had a break in the fifth, early break in the fifth, but I lost the serve right after. I don't think ‑‑ I think it's very difficult actually to compare two matches. First of all, he played at home. That's I think one of the reasons he won that match. He was really down after two sets, but the crowd get him up and he fight back. And then after, in the fourth and the fifth, he played fantastic tennis, of course.
But, I mean, we are here in Paris. It's clay. It's completely different. I don't think it's really wise to compare two matches. It's gonna be completely different match. I never played against Rafael on clay, and I'm really glad that that's in semis of Roland Garros, of course.
Q. You said a minute ago, you spoke of having zero pressure coming into this match. When was the last time you felt yourself in sort of an approximate circumstance?
IVAN LJUBICIC: You know, I remember, like, with my experience, every time I said like zero pressure, then you go too loose in a match. It's not like you don't try hard enough, but I don't want to be too loose. When I say 'zero pressure,' it means that he is the favorite. But I definitely want to win that match. I definitely know that I'm gonna have a chance, and if I take those chances, I'm gonna be danger opponent out there.
So, as I think everybody will agree, that what I said, I'm proud with the less favorite of four, to go in the final or to win the event. But, you know, I'm here for the reason. I am definitely not going to give up that easily the match.
Q. Do you know what the word "spoiler" means?
IVAN LJUBICIC: "Spoiler"?
Q. How a lot of fans are expecting Federer‑Nadal.
IVAN LJUBICIC: Yeah, well, that's natural. The last I don't know how many tournaments they play together, they always went to the final. It's absolutely normal. Rafael winning 57 or '8, whatever number is, matches on clay, that streak has to finish one day. I hope that's gonna be on Friday. He cannot win for ever and everybody knows that.
Q. If it's dry and the court is dry, how much can this court be like a hard court? I assume you'd rather play on that kind of court?
IVAN LJUBICIC: It was the first time for me on center court, actually. I only practiced once in my whole career on this court. I was getting ‑‑ I had a warm‑up in the morning. It looked actually pretty slow to me. But I thought it's gonna be little faster.
But actually I found a lot of clay on court. I played on Suzanne Lenglen two matches. It was slow because it was wet. It was really, really ‑‑ the clay was much darker than the one on center court. But there is a lot of clay out there. I don't know if that's the case of today's matches or it's always like that, but I don't find really the court fast. That's my feeling, maybe because of today or maybe they put more clay, but I don't think so. I mean, it would be very weird, you know.
So, I mean, of course I expect nice weather because I think the forecast is like that. But I don't really think that matters. I mean, it's not like if it's sunny I'm gonna win and if it's cloudy I'm gonna lose. That's not something that's gonna make difference.
Q. When you played Mathieu, there wasn't very much clay. The clay was blown out by the wind.
IVAN LJUBICIC: Yeah.
Q. Would you like that?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I mean, anything that helps, it's good. No, but as I said, the court is not gonna make the difference. I think, you know, it's best‑of‑five. It's gonna be long one. I have to play perfect match to have a chance actually. So if there is little more clay or less clay, I mean, I don't think really that matters.
Q. That was a great smile at the end you let out there. That moment, that moment of enjoyment, what was that comparable with, would you say, in your career so far?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, it's fantastic feeling, I have to say. But it's also, I mean, if you see the players that I beat all the way through the semis, you have to expect that. You know, it would be actually biggest disappointment not to make semis with these players that I played against. It's a lot of pressure from the first round, you know. You play all the guys that you actually have to beat them, and big struggle against Monaco. And now that I'm finally gonna find myself in a position that, you know, that I belong, being No. 4 seed in semifinal, now I can really relax and concentrate absolutely only on my game.
So it was a smile of relief more than anything else.
Q. Your evolution as a player, because, I mean, the tennis fans, some of them are cheering for Nadal, some for Federer because he can make this Grand Slam impossible thing. Your evolution demonstrates that it is possible to play at first in hard courts but now also in clay because this is amazing. I mean, for me also. I don't know if it's work with Piatti or Italian influence or whatever.
IVAN LJUBICIC: I mean, yesterday or two days ago, I said that first time I played on something else than clay was when I was 15. I mean, all my life I'm playing on clay. Of course, with my serve and with my game, you would say he likes to play on something else. But I never ‑‑ I always liked to play on clay.
And, you know, in Monte‑Carlo earlier this year I played quarterfinal, was pretty good result. I had chances even to make semis. I was 5‑2 up against González. Then I had problems a little bit in Rome and Hamburg, but I think those early exits actually helped me to find my time to work on my body and my game, because it was a long period that I was playing so, so well, I didn't have a time to practice.
And this last month in Rome and Hamburg, I had enough time to practice. I worked really hard. And in Dusseldorf I started to work on my game. Everything was happening actually positively for me. Even after the loss against Ferrer, 6‑2, 6‑2, I know that I'm on the good way. I was saying that in interviews as well.
Now I'm here in semifinal in Roland Garros, and I have to say that of course when you lose 6‑2, 6‑Love in Hamburg to Acasuso, I was in doubt. I was not happy with the situation. My coach said, "Okay, this time I'm gonna take the responsibility and you're gonna be in good shape in Paris." I said okay. And that actually relaxed me.
It is surprise. Of course, it is surprise. But, you know, as I said before, if you see the players that I beat, you know, I think it was ‑‑ you could expect me to find myself in semifinal.
Q. It's been a long and winding road for you to get to this place from your home country to Italy, and then finally this breakthrough this year, the Davis Cup final, and now the semifinals here. Was there a point earlier in your career where you just were resigned that, "I'm not gonna be a top 10 or even a top 20 player, I'll just have a nice career and enjoy this"?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I always wanted more. I mean, I never ‑‑ of course, during your career you have ups and downs and you have the moments that you don't believe that much in yourself like I do believe now, for example.
But there were periods like between 2001 and 2004, there were three years of really hard work. I was working, as always, very hard, but the results were just not happening. I was there between 30 and 50 for three years. The only thing in tennis that you don't want is to get used to that ranking and, you know, you don't really ‑‑ don't invest your time or work to do something more.
But I always wanted to do something and, you know, I think with the start of working with Salvador Sosa in the winter of 2003, I think I made probably the best choice in my career. He helped me a lot not only physically but also his experience with the players in the past that he was working with, Bruguera and Corretja. I mean, fantastic players.
So it was a long way, yes, of course. But, you know, I always took step by step. You know, when I felt comfortable in one position, when I consolidate my game, then I wanted more. You know, I think that's the situation now.
As I said before, making almost every tournament, at least quarterfinal, except Rome and Hamburg this year, it's something that, you know ‑‑ it was a long way, but now I'm here and I definitely don't think it's gonna stop any soon.
Q. Do you have to believe you can beat Rafael to beat him? He has such an aura now, he's won all these matches.
IVAN LJUBICIC: I'm not impressed with that streak. I mean, it's fantastic results. But he was close of losing matches so many times that, as I said before, it has to happen one day. And I do believe that I can beat him, yes.
Q. Is that partly because you're more experienced and you've seen things happen?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, you know, when certain things happens to you when you're 27, and you know how to cope with those situations, sometimes better than when you're 18, 19, 20, you know. I just said that in my career, everything was coming slowly.
And now that I made the semis in Paris, you know, I know that ‑‑ what that means. When you do it when you're 18, 19, you're not necessarily know exactly what it means and you may fight all your life, actually, to repeat that.
But now, when you're 27, you know exactly what it means and you know exactly your potential. I know exactly what my game, it's about. I know that if I ‑‑ all what I have in my head, all the ideas how to play, I can beat anyone, and why not Rafael Nadal?
Q. Who would be more intimidating on clay, Roger or Rafa?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Nobody can intimidate me, I think. My ranking is good enough, I think.
Q. More difficult?
IVAN LJUBICIC: It's different. I mean, Rafa, it's more probably physical than about concentration because so many balls look so easy and you just find yourself not hitting the winners that I see all these guys.
But Roger, it's Roger. I mean, he's just fantastic player. You never know what is gonna happen. You know more or less what you can expect from Rafael, but I would always be more worried about Roger.
Live Life to the Fullest , Be Happy , Find Peace within Yourself ..................
Last edited by mangoes; 06-08-2006 at 12:31 AM.