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January 18, 2006

Ivan Ljubicic


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How are you feeling? How did the match go from your point of view?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I think for a set and first half of the second was very rough. Was tough match. But then once I get going, was much better. I had difficulties with his second serve. It's very big kick and the ball out there is bouncing pretty high. So it took me little bit to find out the right approach to that second serve. And then after that I think I played pretty good. It's not easy first time on center court in must-win situation. But I'm glad that I finished in three sets.

Q. Last year you had an incredible year where you were almost unbeatable at first, were in a slump, came back and finished well. Are you looking for consistency this year? Do you think you can hit a level and stay with it?

IVAN LJUBICIC: The form stopped -- this form of the beginning of the year stopped with injury. And then when it stopped, took me a really long time to figure out what was wrong, actually. And then when I find out what it was, I worked on it. I was kind of ready for the US Open, and after US Open I played again great tennis. I just hope that it's not gonna come back anything like that. As long as I'm fit and ready, I'm playing pretty good tennis and there's no reason, you know, to stop that. And we'll see. The confidence, it's very high. I don't think it's something that gets just by winning one tournament or something. It's really good player, and I feel like that.

Q. You had some treatment on your ankle after the first set.

IVAN LJUBICIC: It's not ankle, it's toes. Yeah, I have some problems with the toes, the skin on both toes. It's little bit -- well, it's not really -- it's like burned skin, you know, so I need those toes to be taped to protect that the toe is not touching the shoe, but sometimes it goes off. But, I mean, no really problems.

Q. Didn't affect your game?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, sometimes. I mean, if it burns really a lot, like if the skin is touching directly the shoe which is black and it's really warm, then it burns a lot, so it makes really difficult to move. But if the taping is strong and good, then it's much easier.

Q. This improvement you had, is it all down to confidence or are there some technical things that you adapted?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, it's mixture of confidence and physical fitness. I mean, you have to be ready physically to play match after match, match after match. Even in the past I were winning some important matches but never really was ready physically to win a lot of matches in a row. Now I think last year I proved that I am now. And when the confidence is high, it's important that your body is following that because even if your confidence, it's high, if you are not ready physically, you cannot do it.

Q. Third round in a major has been a hurdle, a threshold for you. Are you confident that you're better, more ready now than before?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I didn't lose a set yet, and I really feel like this time is different because the position that I'm finding myself as a No. 7 seed, I'm playing only on main courts, and I feel really that the people really expect big things for me and I hope I'm not gonna disappoint them. My tennis is totally different than it was before, other Grand Slams. I think US Open was a good one, but I lost in five sets to Gasquet who was on fire back then. I think this struggle time, it's over. I hope so.

Q. You were talking in Shanghai about the slower courts and how many times you have to hit the ball to win a rally.


Q. We're still seeing all these injuries. There are so many men who aren't fully fit. Do you think something's got to be done about it?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, the question is what it could be done about it. There is no secret that the courts and the balls and the game has been slowed down, you know, last five to ten years dramatically, I would say. The rallies are longer and longer and tennis is becoming more and more physical. Since five years, now is the sixth year, that we have this ranking system that is asking from us 18 good results instead of 14. That's also not helping. I am really positive about this new chairman that we having on the ATP, and I think some good changes are gonna be done in next two or three years.

Q. Mario Ancic has said on the other court that playing in Melbourne was a little bit like a hometown match for a Croatian.

IVAN LJUBICIC: It's the best support that we are having, if we are talking about Grand Slams. It's a lot of Croatians out there. Today on my court there were not many, but I hope at least Mario gets some support. It's nice to see them in the crowd with the flags and soccer shirts. It's always good to have someone cheering for you, there's no question and no secret about that.

Q. What's the effect of tennis in Croatia since Davis Cup?

IVAN LJUBICIC: It's tough to say for me because I really wasn't there much. I have some friends who are owning the shops and they say the racquets are flying there, they are selling really good. So I hope it's gonna have good impact and I hope a lot of kids are going to start playing tennis because I really think it's a good sport.

Q. New Davis Cup captain. What's the situation now? There are reports it might be a short-term thing ahead of Goran.

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, exactly, that's what you just said. That's temporary solution. We wait for Goran's decision what he wants to do. He originally said he wants to be a captain, and he said not, and then he said never again, and now he's ready again to talk. So, yeah, we have to wait. He has a meeting with the president of federation on 21st, in three, four days. So we'll see what his ideas are about it. But, yeah, I am at the moment playing captain, yes.

Q. What about it, if it doesn't eventuate the other way, would you be prepared to be the captain?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Yeah, if Goran decided not to take the team over for the first round, I am ready to do it. I already did some steps. I called some people who I am interested in as being like assistants to me. I am starting to slowly to work on it because there is not enough time. But as I just said, we have to wait what's Goran's decision going to be in four days.

Q. Is it distracting having Goran change his mind?

IVAN LJUBICIC: You have to get used to it 'cause he's not gonna change (smiling).

Q. Could I just ask you another thing, a general question about the youngsters here at the tennis losing - Gasquet and a few other ones. Do you have any thoughts about why they haven't pressed on here?

IVAN LJUBICIC: I think everybody expects a lot from them, and that's okay. But I always take one by one. Gasquet had a lot of problems with the fitness problems. He didn't play end of the last year. He is giving me idea as kind of the player that really needs matches to get in the rhythm. In the beginning of the season, it's always difficult. I am surprised that Murray lost that easily to Chela but we all know that when Chela is playing good, it's rough player to play against. Monfils, again, I am also surprised. Don't forget he just played the final in Doha a few weeks ago. That means that he is playing good tennis. But you just never know. It's difficult to say if you don't know them personally, you don't talk to them. But, you know, there is no doubt that they are going to be very good soon. As I think who said, Andy Murray, I think I read, said that Roger was not playing well when he was 19. It happens. You just have to give them time because these days it's not easy; everybody's playing great tennis.

Q. Just some words on your potential opponents next round.

IVAN LJUBICIC: Both lefties. That's certain there's going to be another lefty for the third round. I played against Muller in Chennai few weeks ago. It was quite easy match, but I think he played really bad match there. So I am expecting tough, tough round. I lost to Lopez the only match we played in Dubai few years ago. So it's not gonna be easy. But, again, I am very motivated to finally reach that fourth round in a major, so I am ready. I played two straight -- two matches in straight sets. I'm fit. Let's wait and see who's gonna be.

End of FastScripts….

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