05-22-2006, 04:39 AM
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Ivan Ljubicic Q&A
Ivan Ljubicic Q&A
In the fourth in a series of BBC Sport fan forums building up to the start of the grass court season, we are giving you the chance to send your questions to Croatian star Ivan Ljubicic.
Rafael Nadal, Andre Agassi, Andy Murray, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski will all contest the Stella Artois tournament in June at the Queen's Club in London, and Ljubicic will be looking to beat them all.
The Croatian has moved up the rankings with some stunning victories. He reached the final in Miami in March, only losing to Roger Federer in three tie-breaks in the final.
But it is in the Davis Cup that he has become a national hero. Last year he carried Croatia to their first Davis Cup triumph almost single-handedly.
In the first round he helped them to victory over the United States by beating Roddick and Agassi in singles, and teaming up with Mario Ancic to overcome the Bryan brothers in doubles.
Next week, Ljubicic is in Dusseldorf again representing Croatia but this time in the Arag ATP World Team Championship. He and partner Mario Ancic have never played in the event before.
Here are the answers he gave to a selection of your questions.
What is your favourite tournament and why?
It's hard to name only one. I'd probably say Zagreb and Dubai. Zagreb because it's Zagreb and Dubai because it's the most beautiful tournament and I really enjoy my time there.
Will you be competing in the doubles events at Queens and Wimbledon this year?
Matt, Lincoln, England
I'll probably be competing at Queen's but I'm not sure about Wimbledon as it's best of five sets and can be pretty tiring.
how big a threat do you think Nadal is to Federer on surfaces other than clay?
Well he beat Federer in Dubai, so Nadal is a big threat. I still think Roger would prefer to play him on surfaces other than clay though.
Do you think that anyone stands a chance of winning this year's Wimbledon other than Roger Federer
Stephen Chiu, England
Everyone has a chance but of course Roger is a big favourite, but others certainly have a chance.
Who do you most enjoy playing against on the tour?
Gavin Shand, Scotland
I enjoy playing against Roger, even if I'm not winning. His game gets the best out of me and I find I play my best tennis against him.
What age did you begin playing tennis and when did you decide to take it up as a career? What surface was your best when you were a boy?
Zenor Hunt, England
I started when I was nine and when I was 14 I moved to Italy and decided to try and become professional.
We played on clay as we had no other options.
Which Grand Slam do you think you're most likely to win and why?
It's hard to say but I think my games suits the US Open and Australia, but I wouldn't even exclude Wimbledon.
Are you going to go to Germany to see Croatia play in the World Cup?
Paul McCrum, Norn Iron
It'll be hard to have time as I'll have tournaments to play. But I'll definitely be watching on TV and if I do have a chance I'll try to get to Germany to see some matches.
Who is your pick for Roland Garros? Federer or Nadal?
Rohan Sharma, India
Well Nadal has won the last three matches that they've played on clay so I think Nadal is the slight favourite. It will be interesting to see but I think there are other players who have a chance.
Do you feel that given your big serve and love of fast surfaces, you have the potential to have a successful Wimbledon?
Lieven Meert, USA
I definitely hope so. I have to say that I've never felt comfortable on grass but I feel that this year is different. I feel more confident on fast surfaces and I think my ranking is good enough to avoid bad draws.
Has there been a specific change in your game or mental approach which has resulted in your success this year?
Patrick Burford, England
It's definitely just about my confidence, that is a huge factor. My game is also better now.
What are the secrets to your great single-handed backhand? How many hours a week do you train?
There is no secret to my backhand, it's my natural shot and I picked it up very quickly, I just feel comfortable with the shot.
I play about 15 hours of tennis a week and I train on my fitness for about 20 to 25 hours depending on what tournaments are coming up and the type of surface.
What's your best memory of Wimbledon?
Reaching the junior singles final in 1996, I think I was seeded 13 or 14 so no one was really expecting me to reach the final. That would be my most enjoyable time at Wimbledon.
What do you think of Andy Murray, what is he capable of?
Dave Batista, England
I think he's a great player. He has real talent and is very smart on the court. I also understand the amount of pressure he is getting on his shoulders. I think it's going to depend on how he copes with that pressure.
Once he's grown up mentally and he's realised what tennis means to him and how much he needs to give to tennis I think he's going to become a very very good player.