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January 22, 2006

Ivan Ljubicic


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Not yet dropping a set. How does that feel now?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, doesn't matter how many sets you drop, it's good that I'm in quarterfinals. And it's fantastic feeling. I think I played really good. I was little fortunate, I think, to play with the closed roof. But I really feel fantastic out there. I feel like the courts are perfect for me, balls are perfect. The conditions were great. I mean, what can I say? 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 against previous champion, it must be great performance, and that's exactly the way I feel.

Q. Are you surprised a little bit of that performance? Have you played so well or has he played maybe not so well?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, surprised? No, I'm not surprised. I know I can play well, and that's what I did. Maybe he wasn't obviously playing great tennis. He was struggling with the serve. But, I mean, we know each other so well that I also know what he can give me, and I always -- I wanted to make sure that I'm not gonna give him chance to come back in the match.

Q. You looked very relaxed. Is that the way you felt, pretty confident that you could come up with the shots you wanted to?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Today I really didn't have a reason not to be relaxed. But there is no secret that the confidence is really high. I know exactly what I can do and what I can't, and I am not going for too much. Today my tennis was enough. I mean, from the serve to the backhand, forehand, volleys, return, everything was working perfectly so there were absolutely no reason not to feel relaxed.

Q. What's been the secret mentally? In the past Grand Slams have been a bit of a barrier for you. Are you thinking of it as another tournament?

IVAN LJUBICIC: For me, it's totally different situation. When you're No. 7 seed and you know that everybody - almost everybody that you play against - they are ranked lower than you, and you know that you are the favorite one, if you play good tennis, you gonna win, and that's major difference between now and before. You know, sometimes, even last year against Baghdatis, we played on Court 26, you know, it was windy, sunny, Greek crowd, Croatian crowd, was impossible to play. In these conditions, it's not easy to play. I would like to see even top guys to find the way to play on these conditions. So, I mean, every Slam is different. This time it's much easier for me to play on major courts. Conditions are much better. The crowd, it's bigger. Attention, it's bigger. So it's more that -- kind of the feeling that I like than playing on outside courts.

Q. You've risen in the rankings. Has your game stepped up for any particular reason over that time?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, yes. I mean, if you -- you have to play better. It's not like, you know, the others are playing not as good as last year. I mean, obviously, something happened. That something, it's definitely the confidence and the fitness preparation. With that, it's coming bigger forehand, bigger backhand, bigger serve, everything. It has to be bigger. It doesn't have to be hundred percent better, but in these competitive tennis, you just need to play little better than the opponent, and that's what makes you win matches.

Q. Are you happy to be playing against Baghdatis rather than Andy Roddick?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Actually, I preferred Andy Roddick because I beat him last two times and I really felt comfortable last two times on court against him. I don't mind playing Baghdatis because I have some unpaid checks (smiling). That loss last year really hurt a lot, and I am really glad to have a chance for revenge.

Q. What about the crowd, he's got a big following here and you had a pretty big following tonight. How much did that crowd help you?

IVAN LJUBICIC: I think I have some experience with Davis Cup now, so I know how to cope with that.

Q. How satisfying is it? Here you are, finally in the second week. You get your chance to show what you can do.

IVAN LJUBICIC: It's great feeling. Not only a quarterfinal and the points won, but also if we look at the rankings, if Davydenko doesn't make semis, I'm going to go in front of him. It's already No. 5. If Nalbandian loses to Santoro, it's going to be already No. 4. They are big numbers. It's really nice feeling to be at such a high level of tennis, such a high things to play for. I'm really looking forward to -- for next match. I really don't feel like I have something to lose. I feel exactly the same way I felt in the end of the last year, that everything was going my way, and is the same, absolutely the same feeling to now again.

Q. Concerning the Davis Cup, maybe I don't know if you want to answer that now, but I am from Austria.


Q. You remember from Vienna where you won.


Q. What do you think of the tie coming up in Austria?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, it's definitely not gonna be easy for us. I announced the squad yesterday. It's gonna be Mario, Ivo, Marin Cilic, who is No. 1 junior at the moment, myself. We gonna bring some lefties because we need some, Austrian team has three lefties. We'll see. It's definitely very difficult match. But we understand it's big match because if we win that one, there is a very good chance that we play all matches at home until the end. So it's, for us, a very big match. You know, as a defending champion, we definitely have to prove everyone that we didn't win it by chance and we gonna go there for win, not only to play some tennis and see what's going on. Obviously, it's -- our careers are very important, but Davis Cup, now as defending champion, it's, again, very important and we want to get there as good as we can.

Q. Was it a hard choice to pick yourself?

IVAN LJUBICIC: What's that?

Q. Was it a hard choice to pick yourself?

IVAN LJUBICIC: No, I mean, honestly, to be playing captain of Croatia, it's not very difficult. We have three fantastic players plus No. 1 junior. It was very easy. I hope my job is gonna be also easy. It's completely new situation, new feeling. I spoke with the president. I want to see how he's gonna be in Austria to make any further decisions if I am gonna keep doing it or it doesn't make sense.

Q. You couldn't probably watch the Austrians as a team captain.

IVAN LJUBICIC: I know them. I know them all. Except Peya, the other guys I know pretty well. There's nothing they can hide. Jurgen is gonna play a lot of dropshots. Koubek is gonna run a lot. That's about it. And they're all lefties.

Q. They lost here first round, every one of them.

IVAN LJUBICIC: It's completely different. Davis Cup, with anything else, has nothing to do. Especially it's clay, indoors. It's clay indoors Davis Cup. Here it's outdoors, fast. It doesn't mean much really that they lost here.

Q. I really don't know, what happened with Goran? Everybody thought Goran would take over.

IVAN LJUBICIC: There was some misunderstandings there so he stepped back. We just hope he's gonna change his mind as soon as possible.

End of FastScripts….

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