Life on tour with Ivan Ljubicic
Saturday, May 23, 2009
By Benjamin Adler
Joining the ATP or WTA circuit is something akin to embarking on an endless world tour. Rolandgarros.com asked some of tennis’s major stars for an insight into their life as a perennial sporting backpacker. We begin our series of behind-the-scenes interviews with Croatian former world number 3 Ivan Ljubicic.
Which is the most relaxing city on tour?
Dubai. It’s a great place to go on holiday. It has a very relaxed atmosphere so it’s a real pleasure to play a tournament there. Another cool place is Umag in Croatia. The tournament is held in the summer, right next to the sea, and the matches start at 5pm, which gives you plenty of time to go to the beach and recharge your batteries.
Which cities have the worst traffic jams?
The big three: New York, London and Paris. If I had to pick one out of the three I’d say London because the streets are narrower.
In which city would you most like to buy a house?
New York and Paris. There’s nowhere in the world like Manhattan, and Paris has a certain charm that is unlike any other.
Name an amazing place you have never visited.
The Great Wall of China, the Maldives and Notre Dame in Paris.
Where are the best beaches?
In the Maldives and the Croatian islands in summer. There are 1085 Croatian islands in total, but only 60 are inhabited, the rest are all wild. If you have the chance to go there by boat, you’re totally alone: it’s incredible. I highly recommend taking a cruise around Croatia. It’s really wonderful.
Where is your favourite restaurant?
There’s a great Indian restaurant in Dubai, but I can’t remember the name. Otherwise I’d say Serafina in New York and the Nippon, again in New York. The owner loves tennis and always gives us special discounts so that loads of players go there [laughs]! He’s a really great guy and always comes to support me in the US Open.
What is the worst thing about travelling?
Packing, but the worst thing is airport security. It takes you an hour from the moment you arrive to actually board the plane. The USA is the worst. I hate it, especially when you have to do it two or three times a week.
Which is the friendliest country to visit?
Australia, by far. Australians are fantastic.
Who are your travelling companions?
My son is only seven months old, so he can’t really come with me. I try to take my family with me as much as possible, but my coach always travels with me and my fitness trainer comes 80% of the time too.
Tell us one thing you would change about the circuit.
The schedule, so that we waste less time flying. It would be better if we could play all the tournaments on each continent in one go.
Where can you find the most enthusiastic fans?
In Melbourne. There are lots of really enthusiastic supporters from many countries, including Croatia.
Where are the most knowledgeable spectators?
In Paris. Here, if you show negative feelings, like throwing your racquet down, the spectators whistle at you. I think they know more about tennis, so they can tell when something happens on the court.
Which country has the prettiest girls?
Croatia, Poland, Czech Republic and Serbia.
Which is the best organised tournament?
Melbourne. But it’s easier for them because the city is a lot smaller than the other Grand Slam cities, so the stadium is right in the city centre, giving it a great atmosphere.
Who is your best friend on the circuit?
Thomas Johansson. We live in the same building in Monte Carlo so we’re very close.
Who is the best umpire?
Mohamed Lahyani. You either love him or you hate him.