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October 22, 2005

Ivan Ljubicic


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Ivan.

Q. How many wins in a row do you have right now? Is 15 or 16?

IVAN LJUBICIC: 16. Two Davis Cup, two tournaments, 12, and 4 here.

Q. How big was your biggest serve of today? 228?

IVAN LJUBICIC: I don't know. Maybe if somebody kept track. I don't know. I saw one 228. But maybe there were some others quicker. I cannot say. I mean, I'm not looking every time at the speed, how much it goes.

Q. Your biggest serve in the year, do you remember?


Q. Was there an incident with a ball girl on the court?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Was a misunderstanding. Was an absolute misunderstanding. She went too close to me and she hit the ball too hard. You know, I had to defend. I was thinking like, I don't need to lose energy defending from the ball girl. Was a breakpoint. So I tried to show her how to hit the ball. The people started to whistle. Then she went to the umpire. I don't know what she told him. I said sorry. I felt like she felt hurt or something. Was absolute misunderstanding.

Q. You were born in Bosnia, but your nationality is Croatian?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Croatian, yes.

Q. Why is that?

IVAN LJUBICIC: It's very complicated. In Bosnia you have Croatians, Serbs and Muslims. I'm Croatian. Everybody who is Croatian in Bosnia. When Yugoslavia fall apart, could choose to be Croatian in Croatia or whatever. I move to Croatia so I become Croatia. My father is Croatian. My mom is Croatian. A lot of people ask me. It's not so simple to explain.

Q. You and Nadal are 1-1.

IVAN LJUBICIC: Yes, this year we play two times.

Q. What do you expect coming to the final of tomorrow?

IVAN LJUBICIC: I expect a lot of balls back, a very long match (smiling). A lot of people against me. Normal, no? Davis Cup atmosphere. No, but I'm extremely happy that I beat all my opponents who are fighting for the Masters Cup. Nadal is way in front of us. I'm not worrying if I'm going to win tomorrow or not. But definitely I'm going to give my best. Lately my best was enough for everyone. I hope it's going to be enough tomorrow, as well.

Q. You played with Ferrero a few days ago.

IVAN LJUBICIC: It's different, obviously. I play 10 times against Spanish guys.

Q. In your opinion, Nadal is head and shoulders above the rest of the Spaniards? What's the thing that makes Nadal so big, so strong, putting him apart of the rest?

IVAN LJUBICIC: I think physically. I think physically he's very strong. I think he has huge advantage being lefty. I think if he wasn't lefty, he wouldn't be this good as he is right now. He would be great player, but not as good as he is now. I have fantastic record against Spanish guys this year. I lost only to Nadal. I beat nine others, Nadal including. So I'm not definitely afraid of running around the court and try to hit the winners. Especially best-of-five, you have plenty of time to get in the rhythm, to get a feeling of the ball and try to hit winners. That's what I'm going to try to do tomorrow.

Q. In the second set, Nalbandian seemed to be taking some control with his skill and accuracy with his groundstrokes. In the third set, it changed, why? You served and returned better?

IVAN LJUBICIC: When I went to the toilet after the second set, coming back I saw the screen that was showing the statistics. It showed that I won 18% after my second serve. I realized that there is something wrong, I mean, that he's definitely playing better than me from the rallies, and maybe I should go for a little more of the second serve. In the third set, that's exactly what I did. I tried to push a little harder the second serve, - maybe sometimes too hard. But, you know, I wanted to be very aggressive of the rally. I didn't want it to go into long rallies. At every ball I was looking something to hit. That's what happen. Also in the breakpoint in the beginning of third. It was long rally. He was not taking any risk because he felt comfortable. That's how the whole second set, it was, that he was just rallying and I was the one who was supposed to do something, and it's not always easy. In the third set, you know, I started to serve much better. I started to hit some second serves. Suddenly he felt the pressure on his shoulders, on his service games. On the breakpoint he missed, my opinion, pretty easy shot. That's where everything changed. You know, suddenly you're struggling every service game, then suddenly you are a break up. Then it's much easier to play. I could even win 6-2 the third set. I had three match points. As you said, the match completely changed. It's one of the reasons, I think, it's my aggression on his second serve, and my aggression on my second serve. That's the key moment.

Q. You're quite used to having the crowd against you from the Davis Cup.


Q. What do you do? Do you put blinkers on?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Yeah, you just focus on the points, on the shots, on the ball. That's all what you can do. I mean, it's very nice when you can take the energy out of the crowd. But tomorrow is definitely not going to be the case, so you have to find the energy in yourself. Hopefully I'm very confident now, obviously winning 16 matches in a row. I don't need any extra energy from the crowd. But I'm sure it's going to be really loud against me. But, again, that's very good practice for the Davis Cup final, I think.

Q. Do you enjoy that challenge of playing the crowd and the opponent? Is it very difficult?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I think it's going to be nice, especially because, again, I have nothing to lose. Nadal is qualified already for the Masters Cup. There is no one else to beat to keep the guys away from that spot. I'm going to play my match tomorrow. I'm going to try to serve well, try to be aggressive. It's best-of-five. It's going to be a lot of tennis. We'll see. I'm definitely going to enjoy. It's my first Masters Series final. I'm not going to stay there and be so tense because of it because I played a lot of tennis lately.

Q. Your evolution as a player, you're much more secure on the baseline? Is that Piatti, your trainer, your evolution?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I think it has to be combination of many things. We worked a lot obviously on the physique. It's very important, with Salvador Sosa, my fitness trainer, who is Spanish. And I think I'm much stronger on the ground. When I move, I feel much faster, I feel much stronger, and I feel I put a lot more power in shots. Like, for example, you can take example of Andre Agassi. You know, he is not the best mover on the court, but if he's the one who is dictating the tempo, he doesn't have to move. That's something that I'm looking forward. Obviously, you cannot get where Agassi is, you cannot compare to Agassi. But, yes, it's combination of couple things. Before, yes, I was 30, 40 in the world, but just because of my serve - mainly because of my serve. Now I can use a lot of shots. I can make points, I have a lot of choices, and I'm using them.

Q. The talent that you have in all the Balkans, it's going on, because Goran left, but now it's yourself, Mario, Karlovic?

IVAN LJUBICIC: It is tradition. Croatians physically are very big. That's good for sport. We are good in almost every sport, even if we are only four million. You know, that's tradition. Every kid in Croatia is doing some sport. It's traditional in Croatia. The media is writing a lot about sport, and everybody likes to do sport and to follow the sport. There are a lot of young kids, even now, I don't know if you heard of Marin Cilic, he's No. 2 in the world now, fighting to be No. 1. There's another good guy. There is this good tradition of Croatian tennis in this particular situation that is going on. I'm sure there are going to be many others.

Q. Not many players are married. Are you satisfied?

IVAN LJUBICIC: With my marriage? Yes, I'm satisfied with my marriage (smiling).

Q. Your wife is here?

IVAN LJUBICIC: No, she's not. She was last week in Vienna. She has to work also a little bit. But, yes, it's a good point. It's a good point. I'm having my best year in my life, and it's a year after being married. Definitely, I mean, now talking serious, you start to be more relaxed, more secure. I think it's showing on the court as well.

Q. The name of your wife?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Aida, like opera.

Q. What do you remember about the match with Nadal?

IVAN LJUBICIC: We played in Doha. I won in three sets. Then he won in Miami, even if I was a break up in the third. What I remember for me was very, very difficult to manage his huge top spins. But, you know, is different you play outdoor and indoor. Outdoor you have even the wind, you have a sun. You have things that are basically bothering you, making it difficult to hit winners from baseline. And indoors it's much easier. I'm actually very positive that I'm going to do the good match tomorrow. I mean, doesn't mean that I'm going to win, because after Roger, I have to say he's unlucky that he's with the generation of Roger. Otherwise he would be very good No. 1. But he's one of the best players in the world. I mean, all Masters Series is just Roger and Nadal. I'm going to try to stop that. But it's definitely not going to be easy, that's for sure.

Q. I don't know if you've realized that tomorrow the best player until this year is playing against the player with more victories in a year. Ljubicic is the best indoor player against the best player that has more victories this year?

IVAN LJUBICIC: I think it's going to be a great match. That's all what I can say. Nadal won a lot of matches this year, that's for sure. But I have great record indoors, as well. I don't feel the best player indoors. Because I think if Roger played all these tournaments, it would be much, much different. But definitely I won a lot of matches. What can I say? It's going to be great, great match, I think. It's always nice to see match-up between two different styles. I think we have totally different style. It's going to be very interesting for the crowd.

Q. Do you know if Ivanisevic will be the fourth member in the final of the Davis Cup, on the Croatian team?

IVAN LJUBICIC: I think he's going to be, yeah. Looks like, yeah.

Q. Are you aware of the court in Bratislava? That covered court, it's quite special.

IVAN LJUBICIC: I think they're going to change the surface. I think, because it was too fast for Spain, was too fast for Argentina, but would be suicide for them if they put the same court. I think it would be great for us. I think they going to try. They going to try to put slow. But how slow can it be indoors? That's also questionable. It's going to be great match, another great match. We are almost in the end of the season, but a lot of good matches are still in front of me (smiling).

End of FastScripts….

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