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October 22, 2004

Ivan Ljubicic

MADRID, SPAIN, I. LJUBICIC/J. Johansson 7-6, 6-7, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Ljubicic, please.

Q. You became quite notably emotional in the second or third sets. What did you do at the end for the tiebreak to sort of concentrate and get the final victory? It was a very close match.

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I think all three tiebreaks won the player who was playing better in the end of the sets, because I felt like I had chances in the first to win it without playing a tiebreak. Then beginning of the second, I think I had the breakpoint. I felt like, you know, I could maybe even break him. But didn't happen. Then he start to play really well. In the first set, he was missing couple shots, and then in the second almost nothing, the end of the second, he just cruised through the tiebreak. He was playing really well. So, I mean, I have nothing to regret about that second set tiebreak. Then third set again, we started both pretty slow on return games. But I felt like, as the match was going close to finish, I was winning more points on his serve than he was on mine. So that gave me extra confidence in third tiebreak, you know, to win it. Even after 2-0 up, with a mini break up, I lost three points in a row with mini break up for him. But I still felt like, you know, I had my chances because he wasn't hitting that many winners as he was in the second set. So, I mean, in the end, obviously after 4-3 I served two big serves, and he finished with a double-fault, which is maybe a trademark of our match, that everything is decided by serve.

Q. How do you feel sort of going into the semifinals? Have you surpassed expectations?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Not really because, I mean, I played already semis in Hamburg, and I think that was much bigger surprise than this. I mean, everybody knows that I can play well on indoor courts. I mean, if I beat Schuettler and Henman back to back, Joachim, I don't see why I cannot go all the way. I feel like I have a game for everybody almost. I don't know who's going to win this one. I never played against Nalbandian. But Dent, I played him at the Olympics, and he beat me pretty easily. But I was quite tired there, not really focused for that match because obviously Olympics was pretty big mess. If it just look like, can I beat Dent? Yes, I can. It's not like it's semifinals or, He can't get to the final. I mean, why not? You know, I mean, even in the final, I have 1-All with Andre, and I think 2-1 up against Marat. So, you know, why not?

Q. Do you feel you're sort of gaining confidence and getting better as the tournament goes on?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, not only tournament. I think the whole my career it's like that, you know, that I'm going up slowly but surely and gaining confidence and gain every tournament I play. I do feel more and more comfortable on the court every match I play, if we talk only about this tournament. But if I look back, all my career, I was almost every year going up. You know, I do feel like I maybe belong somewhere between 10 and 20. So, you know, winning this tournament for me will be fantastic, but it's not something that it's going to change my life, so, you know, I should be afraid of. It's nice results, fantastic results, especially in one year playing two semifinals of Masters Series. As I said, I mean, I'm ready to go on. It's not like I'm satisfied with just this result.

Q. You're going up and up, but where is the top of your tennis, do you think?

IVAN LJUBICIC: I mean, I don't know. I would like to know what is my final career position, I mean, because I'm doing everything what I can to improve every year. Even I took a Spanish fitness trainer, Salvador Sosa, who used to work with Corretja, Bruguera, couple other very good players. So I'm still investing in myself and trying to improve my fitness, my game, my serve, everything what I can, that in the end of the career I can say I did everything what I could. I did this, this, this and that. If it's good enough, I don't know. But I don't see where is the limit really because I think every year we are having -- we can call it surprises, but they are not really. Schuettler playing final in Australia, Gaudio winning Roland Garros, all these type of player. I don't feel like these guys are better than me. If they can do it, why not me also? Of course, I'm not going to win five Grand Slam titles, but why not maybe one of them or why not at least a final or semis or winning here? I mean, as I said, I don't think it's something untouchable or unreachable because I beat everybody at least once. Also, I mean, having great record against Roger, it's giving me a lot of confidence.

Q. What about the public? You said in your last press conference you were used to playing early, 11:00, 10:00. Do you feel the public are getting to know you in this tournament?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I hope so because obviously there is only one Spanish left. Doesn't matter who I play now, unless it's Robredo, I mean, crowd is going to be -- I mean, I hope not totally for my opponent. So it's kind of nice because I'm used to play always against the guys from where they are coming from. You know, in the States, against American, it's really easy to find one. And last year I had back to back to play Srichaphan in Thailand and then Roger in Basel. It's nice emotions, because there is a lot of people cheering. But, you know, it's not always nice that they are going every time against you. Obviously, in Davis Cup I'm playing really good, and I like when there is a lot of crowd. But physically talking, I don't mind playing even earlier. I don't know what time are the matches tomorrow. I don't think too early. So I'm sure that somebody told me now - somebody, ambassador, Croatian ambassador was here, he told me he tried to get some tickets, and everything is sold out. I hope it's going to be a lot of people, those who bought the ticket.

End of FastScripts….

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