Who could ever forget Wimbledon last year. It will always be heralded as one of the greatest Wimbledon's ever in its long history. It was the year our favourite Croatian Goran Ivanisevic won. Unfortunately he won't be playing in this years tournament but we may have a new Croatian tennis star in the making.
Step in Mr Mario Ancic.
Mario had to qualify for Wimbledon this year by beating three opponents. In the first round of Wimbledon he has already created a huge upset by downing Roger Federer of Switzerland 6/3 7/6 6/3.
Mario was born in Split, Croatia on 30th March, 1984. He is currently ranked 154 in the ATP Tour Singles Ranking. He was also a Junior Wimbledon finalist two years ago.
Here is an interview that was conducted after Mario won his first round match.
Q. Congratulations. How do you feel now?
MARIO ANCIC: I'm feeling -- I feel great. I just play one of the best matches in my life, so how can I feel? I cannot feel better I think.
Q. Was it a surprise to you?
MARIO ANCIC: I came first time to play Centre Wimbledon, they put me on Centre Court for my first time. I qualified, I had nothing to lose. I was just confidence. I knew I could play. I'm young. I believe in myself and I just go out there and try to do my best. Just I didn't care it who did I play, it doesn't matter. I just went there and play.
Q. Did you know anything about Roger? You had a special game plan or had spoken to Mr. Ivanisevic to see what you could do?
MARIO ANCIC: Yeah, actually I spoke with him yesterday. And just I knew him from TVs. Some time I play Key Biscayne. That was my only big tournament this year. Otherwise I was in challengers.
But I knew already how is he playing. I don't know that he knew how I'm playing, but that was my advantage. And, yeah, I knew I didn't have any tactics, just I was playing, enjoying.
Q. How close are you to Goran? What does he mean to you?
MARIO ANCIC: We are from same town. When I was growing up, he was in Split and we always hit, even when I was 10. We were in Davis Cup together, we play in Olympics, doubles. I know he was always good to me. Sometimes I felt like he was my bigger brother in tournaments, and I know I can always relate on him. Like yesterday when I call him about tactics, you know.
He's a great guy and also player as you saw last year.
Q. How upset was he not to be here himself when he spoke to you yesterday?
MARIO ANCIC: I think he cannot watch too much other guys playing. He just sitting there. That's his character. But his arm is like -- it's not so great. He's now doing exercise. I hope and I think we all hope he come better next year.
Q. What did he exactly tell you yesterday as tips on how to play Federer? What did he tell you?
MARIO ANCIC: He told me just he has great forehand, just stay away from him. He can serve good, but sometimes just attack him on second. He knows to, like, make pressure on my second so I have to be little bit aggressive with that one. And, you know, he was mostly slicing backhand, sometimes hitting it. But I knew there was my chance. And I was serving good today.
Q. You had a chance last week to hit with Jim Courier. Did that help you in any way? Did he give you any advice or tips on your game?
MARIO ANCIC: Yeah, it was a great experience to hit with him. We spoke about my game. We hit for one hour. He's still hitting good, I can tell you that (laughter).
And, no, he just told me play my game just be relaxed. And that's it.
Q. You have a lot of Goran's mannerisms. Have you been around him long enough to start acting like Goran, Jr.
MARIO ANCIC: No, Goran is Goran. Not me. I just knew him for a long time. We are from Split; we are typical. So it's maybe some other guys in 20 years are gonna come maybe the same. That's our character. We are all not too much difference, with our temperament.
Q. Last year Goran thrilled us explaining that he had three different personalties. Will you be able to thrill us this year? Do you have three different personalties, please?
MARIO ANCIC: I'm still one (laughing). No, he's unique.
Q. Where were you when Goran won last year? That must have been so special for everyone in Croatia. But where were you?
MARIO ANCIC: I just came from tournament, then I supposed to have off. But then from match to match I was just watching. And when he won, I cannot describe feeling. I just saw throwing everywhere from the houses, then you just see piece, crash, boom, bam. I say, "I cannot miss this." Then I went to him with the boat special and then we came in Split. I think everybody saw what happened yesterday.
Q. How many days did you party with him after winning?
MARIO ANCIC: Couple (smiling).
Q. What's the most important thing Bob has done for your game?
MARIO ANCIC: I don't know. We are four years. I think the best thing that he calm me down a lot and we are -- I think improving from every like day-to-day I think. I have to give 100 percent of each practice. And I think he calm me a lot in four years.
In the beginning I had to do push-ups for every word I -- because he knew everything from Goran that was -- I was unlucky there.
But then I get pretty strong soon and then I get little bit clever that I cannot stop with this. And I think I'm okay now.
Q. When you went to Bob Brett, it was because Goran had been also with him, or was it an advice from Goran, or you went on your own?
MARIO ANCIC: No, no, when I was 14, then the guy who was managing me then was the same manager as Goran. Then they spoke and first I came, like, one week to Monte-Carlo and then after he was still with Kiefer, and then after and always he had time, you know, I was sparring a lot to Kiefer and other guys.
And after when he wrote to Kiefer, it was normal, it was going normal. And we are still together.
Q. You had a real feel for grass, which is unusual for a young player, a European player. Had you played much on it before? You were chipping around charging. You were slicing your backhand.
MARIO ANCIC: Yeah, I played final of Juniors here two years ago. But I like grass. I'm big server, big guy. So it doesn't -- just few tips you need to know. Good thing, I was volleying exceptionally good today and just making pressure whenever I can. Because on grass you have to be always ready, prepared and focused always.
Q. People will now compare you with Goran, tomorrow in the papers. How difficult will it be to make everyone realize you are a different person?
MARIO ANCIC: I'm... Everybody know that I'm different person. It was all the time since I grew up they were talking that I am second Goran. But Goran says one best sentence that describes everything, "Next Goran will be his son," next Ivanisevic. I'm Mario. I think everybody will know me like that. I'm Goran's friend and that's it.
Q. If you win another couple of rounds do you think you can make him come over here and support you?
MARIO ANCIC: I don't know. You have to speak with him. I don't know.
Q. Would you like him to?
MARIO ANCIC: Yeah, I like. I like it.
Q. Over his long career, Goran has broken many numbers of racquets and spoken to a lot of his racquets. Do you do the same, break racquets or have conversations with them?
MARIO ANCIC: I just broke them. I'm not too sensitive like him to talk (laughter).
Q. You said that after Goran won in Croatia they were throwing things all over the place. How far will you have to go in this tournament before they start throwing things all over the place and celebrating wildly?
MARIO ANCIC: I don't know. We are typical. There, just everybody gonna make great effort. If you lose, you are all -- again, they will say this guy isn't worth anything. So I don't know. I hope they gonna start.
They started last year when Goran went to last 16. Before they thought, "Ahh, he's playing all year bad. We don't want to watch him." Then he beat I think Rusedski last 16, everybody started there and nobody was working anymore when he was playing. And after, was just crazy.
Q. How much will this win mean to him, as he's not able to be here?
MARIO ANCIC: I think he like, because of me. Because he is a good guy. He's also -- he also care for everybody else, all Croatian players. And I think he will be delighted.
Q. Was there a moment today when you realized, "I can win this," during the match?
MARIO ANCIC: I didn't think like. I just... No, I thought I can -- I was pretty confident from the beginning that I can play with him because I play with -- I was sparring with lots of players on the tour and I didn't have fear of them. And I believe in myself, in my game. And I just didn't think. I just think, "Let's go next point, next point, next point," and just was like going like that.