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October 21, 2004

Ivan Ljubicic

MADRID, SPAIN, I. LJUBICIC/T. Henman 6-4, 4-6, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Ivan.

Q. Three in a row now. What is it about Henman's game that you like so much?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I think every match is different because the first time I beat him was his first tournament after surgery, so I don't think it's that big win as maybe this one and the one in Doha. In Doha was really close one. He was break up in the first, then had mini break up in the tiebreak. Could go either way. Today I felt like he was struggling controlling the ball because it is flying a little bit, especially his flat shots and volley, it's not easy to control. So I did everything I could to put a lot of rotations on the ball, that it's even more difficult for him to control. But every match is different. I mean, if you play on clay, indoors, I mean, every match is different. So it's not like I'm doing always the same thing to beat him and I'm doing it. But today I felt like I had to win in two. But I struggled that one game with new balls. I think I played pretty bad that game. And then I came back very strongly in the third.

Q. Were you surprised at how many free points on his forehand you were getting today?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, not surprised. I mean, I was really happy every time when he was missing it (smiling). But, as I said, it's not easy to control the ball here. If you don't put rotation on it, it's not easy to control it. And obviously I don't think he played since US Open, so he needs couple of matches. I mean, yeah, he was missing more than usual. But I think on this court, this surface, with these balls, it's quite normal.

Q. You were saying that you don't always play the same way against him. Today it seemed that your second serve, you changed your second serve, that you weren't maybe putting the kick into it as much?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Yes. Because in Doha he was coming in on every second serve that I did. And I tried to kick it, I mean, more rotation, more rotation, but nothing was bothering him, he was coming in anyway. So from the first point, I tried to mix it up, as you said, with directions, rotations. You know, even maybe go a little bit more for it just to make sure that don't give him the rhythm to come in, you know, because it's easy to come in when you know where the second serve is going. If you don't know, then you have to wait to see the ball. Then if you come in, you may be late.

Q. His game, there's so few really out and out serve-and-volleyers nowadays, do you enjoy actually the contrast of his game, playing against his style? Does that suit you?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I mean, I love to see him playing because it's really beautiful technique and moving on the court and he's using his brain totally, trying to anticipate the opponent's shots. It's really nice to see him. Obviously, it's not always possible to play that kind of game because in Doha, for example, he was coming in much more than here. Depends also against who you play. Like, for example, in Wimbledon against Mario, it's suicide to play serve and volley, and he was doing it because it's grass, because it's Wimbledon. You know, he was just unlucky maybe to play him. But, I mean, I enjoy to see players playing serve and volley. You know, it's not easy these days because the balls and the courts are slower and slower. But I think we are lucky to have -- to still have those kind of players - Mirnyi, Tim and Taylor, still on court, and couple more.

Q. When you have to start so early with nobody around, how difficult is it to get into a momentum quickly?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I'm used to it. Really, without joking, I'm playing a lot first matches because, obviously, my ranking, it's good enough to play on center court, but not good enough to have certain schedule. So I'm really used to it. 11, it's not too bad. I played at 10 in Monte-Carlo twice in a row, which was a little rough. But I don't have problems. I just like to have little more time between my warm-up and the match. I try to warm-up at 9:30 here. But, unfortunately, there were no lights on the court, so it was kind of difficult (smiling). Once I came on the court with the lights, it was much easier to play.

Q. In a sense, you had a little bit of an advantage, do you think?

IVAN LJUBICIC: I think I did, yeah. Because Tim, obviously, I don't think he played much first matches. And I think even my kind of game suits -- you know, I don't have to hit a lot of balls to get in a rhythm. With my serve, there are no rallies, at least I'm trying not to have any rallies, and then with the opponent's serve, obviously if I have a chance, I go for it. For me I think it's much easier to get in momentum than for my opponent, especially Tim today.

End of FastScripts….

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