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January 14, 2006

Ivan Ljubicic


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. After starting the year so well, what have you done in the last week? You obviously played a few matches in Kooyong. How much do you play at this sort of time leading up to a tournament? Do you try to really put a lot of work in off the court?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Exactly. I'm trying to get my body in perfect shape. I didn't have really a lot of time in my off-season to prepare. I'm going to work in the weeks that I'm not playing the tournament physically a lot, trying to steal that time and to work hard physically. Obviously, I arrived on Monday night from India, played on Wednesday against Coria, wasn't quite really there. But, you know, with the days -- on Friday, yesterday, I played really good. I'm glad the way my form is going, the way I'm preparing this Grand Slam.

Q. You have a few Australian Opens under your belt now. How do you feel now compared to previous years, both physically and psychologically?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, yeah, physically I feel better probably than ever. I always played pretty good the first weeks of the year. I played last two years final in Doha, but arriving here pretty tired actually. When you play straightaway five matches, if you're not fit, if you're not ready, can be a problem. But this year is totally different. I won a tournament in Chennai, but I feel like I never really played. Physically I'm fit. Mentally, obviously being No. 7 seed instead of looking at the draw and find yourself somewhere, it's totally different. It's much easier to get a practice court and stuff. It's fun. You know, I'm enjoying the time. I'm playing good tennis, that is what is important.

Q. Do you find the heat any sort of problem out here?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, not now obviously. It's pretty cool out there. That's great.

Q. Have you in the past?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Yes, yes, many times. I remember my juniors, '97, was really warm. That's now, what, nine years ago. I know it can be very hot. Now is different, I have to say. Physically I feel really fit. Final in Chennai on Sunday, I played two matches. Played five sets in one day. I know that I'm ready because I did it. Many guys here, they can just assume that they are ready. I have proof that I can do it. It was also humid and hot in Chennai, as well. I know I'm ready, and that's something that gives me confidence.

Q. Do you have a different outlook these days coming to these tournaments? A few people would have expected you to win a few matches in the past. I'm reading The Herald Sun here, they're talking about you as one of the dark horses who could come through and maybe contend for the title.

IVAN LJUBICIC: You know, now I have ranking, and they can talk about. Also few other times journalists were talking about me even when my ranking wasn't this high. But, you know, I just never did it. I never did anything in a Grand Slam. I have to say that the only thing I want is to pass first round and just go one by one. I had a lot of disappointments in my career in Grand Slams that I just want to try not to think about them and try to think about this tournament as something new and something completely different than any other Australian Open I ever played. We'll see how far I can go. I know that there are no players out there who I cannot beat. Against most of them I'm going to be the favorite. That's a good thing about it. You know if you play well, you going to win. That's something that is different comparing the past years.

Q. Didn't you lose to Baghdatis last year, crazy court in the back?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Yes. I have to say I was disappointed to get such a small court for the second round. I thought he was No. 1 junior at that time. I was seeded last year, not as high as now. Everybody knew that Croatian crowd, he had Greek crowd behind him, that it was a big match. We get very small court. No excuses there. He played a great match. I'm still discussing with my coach, I'm still saying that he's a great player. He's telling me that I should have won that match (smiling). I think he beat Robredo after that. He lost in the fourth round against Roger. I think he played a good match. I think he's dangerous opponent. There are many like that in the draw.

Q. When you get up early in the morning, do you still keep in your memories what happened in Bratislava?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Yeah, last three or four months a lot of things happen. Metz, Madrid, Paris, Davis Cup, now Chennai. I really enjoying this period. Yeah, I'm waking up in the morning as a happy man because I know that my career is successful no matter what I'm going to do from now on. Even if I never reach fourth round in a Grand Slam, even if I don't win any other matches in my life, I know that the day I stop I can say my career was successful. I won a Davis Cup, I won few tournaments, I was top 10 player, I played in Masters Cup. That's big for me. I know how I felt when I was starting. I know how rough was the road. I'm really enjoying this period. I can say that I'm probably showing it on the court, as well.

Q. You played Madrid, Paris, four weeks in a row.

IVAN LJUBICIC: I played five weeks in a row. I plate Metz, Vienna, Madrid, Lyon, Paris. It was very important because of the Masters Cup. Obviously, before Metz, I was 21. I end up No. 8. It was really great stretch.

Q. You didn't worry about all about hurting yourself?

IVAN LJUBICIC: No. I was fit. I had just had a little bit problem with my knee semifinal and final of Bercy, but that was it. Obviously, I was not fit hundred percent. But I played. I played all right. My maybe footwork wasn't as good in Paris like in Metz. You know, still winning matches.

Q. Everybody is talking about injuries these days. You seem to be an example, as a middle-aged player in terms of age on the tour.

IVAN LJUBICIC: I'm trying to take care of it really. I'm doing a lot of blood tests myself, a lot of tests any time I can because I know that it's extremely important. I know my weak points in my body. I'm trying to work hard on those points. It works well so far. I mean, as a tennis player, somebody has ankles, knees. Everybody knows what is their weak point. You just have to really be focused because if you relax just a little bit, it can be really, really bad.

Q. What is the blood stuff?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Just checking if everything is fine. If you get a virus easy, maybe some levels are low or too high, you just won't be normal. Nothing special. If it's iron very low, then it's bad, you cannot work hard and stuff like that. Nothing unusual. But just be consistent.

Q. How often do you have it tested?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Maybe three, four times a year.

Q. Do you have any explanation for the reason that some guys are having injuries?

IVAN LJUBICIC: You just can't be surprised that Andre is injured, for example. He's 35. He played a lot of tennis. Obviously his body is not as it was before. Marat has this knee problem that it goes on and on. I really think that people are -- everybody is talking about these injuries now because so many top guys are injured at the same time. If you look back, I think even five or 10 years ago, everybody had problems but really never happen at the same time. Now it just looks really bad because they are injured at the same time. All these guys, like they were talking about changing the calendar because top guys didn't play Madrid and Paris. Now you end up these guys didn't even play Masters Cup and these guys aren't even in Australia. It's not a calendar problem. Everybody is trying to talk about changes and what we can do, but it's not really that the problem. The problem is that tennis is becoming more and more physical. You just have to be careful to pick the tournaments and try to be fit.

Q. A lot of people would say you shouldn't play five weeks in a row like you did. Did you ever worry during that period that you were doing too much? You lost after Madrid in the first round.

IVAN LJUBICIC: The thing was, I was not injured like fully injured, but I was little bit injured like big part of the summer. Since Miami, I was really fit and not fit. I was practicing and practicing. I had basically the time from Miami until Metz, which was like five months, that I never played two or three matches in a row. So I had the whole time in the world to practice. That's why in Metz I was already physical because it was actually five months that I was practicing. You cannot do that. I'm not ready now to play five tournaments in a row. I'm probably never going to do it ever in my life. But then I entered the tournament because in four months before that I knew that I was not playing any tennis, that I need to play tennis, and I was ready. Like, for example, if Marat now comes back or Nadal, they know that they are fit. The moment they are fit, they are hungry to play tennis and they know they can play many, many matches in a row because they didn't play for such a long time.

End of FastScripts….

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