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April 2, 2006

Ivan Ljubicic


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Ivan, please.
Q. Every time you needed to get an important backhand today, it just wasn't there. If your backhand had been even 10% better today, do we have a different match?
IVAN LJUBICIC: It's hard to just talk about one shot. I mean, it was great match. We played over three hours, three tiebreaks. If my backhand was off, it would be like 2, 2 and 2.
I think it was just the bigger points he played better. He definitely played more relaxed and more confident than I did. On 6-5, set point in the third set, he comes up with a great, great serve. Then on matchpoint he hit the net. I mean, in those moments, it's something else that made the difference.
But of course I think in the end when you draw the line, he probably played a little better than me, and that's, you know -- straight sets, it's maybe little hard, but you he definitely deserved this win.
Q. We're used to seeing you hit your backhand with your confidence and accuracy than you did today.
IVAN LJUBICIC: I'm not disappointed with my backhand, no.
Q. Is it frustrating to be so close, or are you proud of the way you played since it was so close against the No. 1 player?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, the moment, like 10 seconds after the match, you mad because you think you were close. But then a week after, you proud of the way -- I mean, I'm gonna be proud the way I played and the fact that I was close.
But, I mean, it's still a loss, of course. As I said, it's straight sets, so it definitely feels a little rough.
But this is when you play a tiebreak against him, he never misses. He rarely gives you anything. Of course he comes up with the big shots when it's really important.
Q. Can you talk about the ups and downs of this match for both players, how the quality of tennis surged back and forth. Talk about the match as you saw it.
IVAN LJUBICIC: Yeah, I think we had pretty good start, but I knew that I'm gonna have a problems with the serve in the second set because of the sun. It's really hard from that side to serve well 'cause you always have to toss the ball where there's no sun, and that's never where you want to have a ball.
And of course, you know, if he push hard, I have to push hard to stay close to him. And if he slows down a little bit, you know, it's hard to still be pushing hard.
So, yes, I mean, we kind of, you know, played a match together. When he broke me, I broke him back in the second. So it was definitely really, really close match. But, again, as I said, in tiebreaks, I think especially in the second set after 4-1, he played some great shots. I remember like many tiebreaks that I played against him, it was always the same. He is coming up with the winners on the line or some crazy shots, what happened the same today.
Q. What went through your mind when the ball hit the net and rolled over.
IVAN LJUBICIC: No, "It's over."
Q. What did you say to each other at the net?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Nothing. I said "Congratulations".
I mean, of course there is -- you would wish that the match finishes in different style, you know. Even I think if you ask him, he would say that he would prefer, you know, something else.
But this is tennis. I mean, this is just another way to win a point, so he did it. It was little bit disappointing in the end, for two reasons. One, is that I lost. Second, I think the way, it was not really beautiful.
Q. You play long enough in junior tennis or whatever, you probably had a match somewhere along the way where a match ended like this either in your favor or against you. Have you ever been in an important match, not necessarily --
IVAN LJUBICIC: I don't remember any match finishing like this, honestly.
Q. In your favor?
IVAN LJUBICIC: No, no. I remember like in doubles once I returned and flicked the net and the guy missed the volley, but it's just not the same.
Q. Does it make you think like the guy just has incredible shots and incredible luck?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I mean, that occasion he was lucky but you can't say he won a match because he was lucky, you know.
Q. Right, but a shot like that.
IVAN LJUBICIC: He was definitely looking for the short ball. That's what he, makes him special, you know. He goes for some shots that no one else does. I mean, nobody else is really looking for short, short return. I mean, he does it often. It's just another, as I said, way for him to win a point. One time it's gonna stay back, one time it's gonna flip over. This time it flipped over.
It was, in that moment, bad luck. But even if that ball stayed on the other side, who knows, maybe it would be 9-7 or four sets, five sets, who knows. But as I said, I don't think it's a great way to finish the match because now we talk only about that point and the match was like three hours and something with many, many great points.
Q. This talent he has for lifting his game in those key moments in tiebreakers and stuff, do you feel this is something that's learned, or is it confidence?
IVAN LJUBICIC: You have to ask him. I don't know how he does it. But it's definitely he raise his level especially in tiebreaks. I played many tiebreaks now against him and I won few, but he definitely play best tennis in the tiebreaks. It's not a secret.
I don't know, I think his tiebreak, it's 11-1 this year or something like that, and the one he lost he was 4-Love up against Clement. He's definitely playing best tennis in tiebreak. There's no fortunate there.
Q. It was a great match for both.
IVAN LJUBICIC: Of course. I'm happy the way I played. Maybe I could, you know, you always say yes, but now looking back, I should do this, do that. But it was definitely nice match. I think crowd enjoyed it.
Q. When it is that close, do you find you do replay certain points? Tonight, are you the type of player who is going to be thinking, "If I had done this, this and this..."
IVAN LJUBICIC: When it's three sets, not really. If you have a matchpoint and you miss it and you lose a match having matchpoint, then of course you think about that point a lot. But I don't think there was a certain point when I should say like, "If I did this, maybe I could win the match." In the end, it was straight sets.
Q. You lost two tiebreakers to start. Yet you came out, there was no letdown. Didn't get pounded in the third set, obviously. What was your mindset?
IVAN LJUBICIC: No, I think I was -- I wanted to fight, you know, because I remember of course the match he lost against Nalbandian at the Masters Cup. I knew that his best tennis is usually in the first set and then he's dropping a little bit. I mean, his dropping is just - dropping, I mean. It's not really dropping.
But, I mean, I knew that I was enjoying the way I played and I wanted to give a fight. And if you win a third, you just never know, you still in the match. Maybe fourth, maybe fifth.
But, unfortunately, I had a break, I was playing really good tennis in that beginning of the third set, and then one very bad game and everything was back, back on serve again.
Q. You mentioned that you didn't want to overhit, that that's a tendency against Federer. Did you manage to stick to your game plan in that sense?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I think more or less, yes. Of course you can't play the same way against Federer and against Nalbandian or any other player. But I think I did pretty much everything I wanted to do.
Q. After this do you think you can win a Masters or a Grand Slam event?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Why not? I mean, I lost other two finals in five sets against Nadal and Berdych and now three tiebreakers against Roger. Of course I think I can.
Q. You said before that you learn every time you play Roger. What did you learn from this match?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I'm not gonna say it in press conference (laughing).
It's something that you pay, you know. I paid $266,000 this loss (laughter), so this is something that's worth it, this information.
Q. You seem to know that figure quite exactly.
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I know it's always double, you know. Finalist and the winner. I know how much I get.
Q. Following Davis Cup, what is your clay court schedule?
IVAN LJUBICIC: It's Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, then week off. Well, actually started with a week off because after Davis Cup I'm not playing. So Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, week off, Rome, Hamburg, then World Team Cup and Paris.
Q. Is it good to have a Davis Cup so quickly to take your mind off this loss?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Of course not. I'm not going to say, I can't say now that I'm gonna play 100% on Friday because we have this opportunity maybe to put Mario against No. 2 first day. We gonna work it out. It's hard to say now.
Unfortunately, Ivo, it's not something, I don't think, he can help out a little bit. Of course it would be better if the Davis Cup wasn't there.
Q. Do you find ever as a player, you know, the people in the stands marvel at the shots he makes. When you're a player in the midst of a match, do you find yourself saying, "How did he do that?"
IVAN LJUBICIC: Yes, yes, many times. He is the guy who, as I said, is coming up with some solutions that you usually don't see it on a court. So, yes, I mean, but you have to forget pretty quickly and concentrate on the next point.
Q. Is there one shot in that final tiebreak that you'd like to take back?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Matchpoint (laughing).
Q. Maybe one you felt hurt you the most?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I don't really remember. Are you aiming on something or...? Do you have in mind?
No, I mean, of course set point but he served well. I mean, it's hard, hard to say.
Again, I don't really feel that it's a match about one point, you know. It was close, but not really that close.
Q. Do you know when you are flying to Croatia?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I go tomorrow. I fly tomorrow. I'm gonna be in Croatia Tuesday morning.
Q. You've talked to Goran a few days ago, talked about how to sleep. Have you spoken with him since? Did he have final words to say to you before this match?
IVAN LJUBICIC: No, I spoke with Thomas Johansson. He can't play now so he's watching all matches on TV and putting some comments. He's nice guy.
Q. What was his advice?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Oh, again, I mean... (smiling).
Q. Was it good advice?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Of course it was, yeah. I won many points with that advice, yeah. It's expensive coach, though (laughter).
Q. Because Roger is seemingly such a good guy, is it sometimes hard to work out the sort of animosity toward him when you're competing against him?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I am not kind of guy that have -- I don't have to hate the guy to play against him. I don't mind.
I mean, as I always say, if I have to lose to someone, Roger is always the one because he's No. 1, because he's nice guy, and everything else. I don't mind against -- playing against nice guys. There are lot of nice guys around.
Q. Were you surprised he made such a fuss about that call at the baseline?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Actually, I don't know what he was saying. I think the linesman, what, made call it out and then correct herself and he wanted to maybe repeat. I don't know what he was going for.
Usually he is not, yeah, never arguing the calls.
Q. You didn't feel like using the HawkEye today?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I don't know. If I thought maybe there was a ball, I would call it. I used that in past two matches.
Q. When you saw him arguing a call, did it sort of pick you up because did it make you feel like, "I'm kind of getting to him a little bit? He's getting frustrated"?
IVAN LJUBICIC: No, no, he didn't look frustrated. He was just, I think, curious to see what's going on. It was definitely something that he was not clear with. I don't think he was nervous -- I mean, even when he is nervous, he is still playing good tennis. So you have to be nervous little bit because you are in the final and it's good match.
But I don't think it would make any difference if he was more nervous or less.

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