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August 7, 2006

Ivan Ljubicic


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Ivan.

Q. Did you have pretty good weeks off after Gstaad?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, one week off, then the rest was work. But definitely it helped, it helped a lot, because I had long first half, a lot of matches. It helps you more mentally than physically. It's really just to switch off a little bit.
I mean, I have to say I was afraid a little bit to see how the first match is going to go, but I'm extremely happy because I was practicing -- I arrived here Wednesday afternoon, so Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, I didn't win any sets at all against anyone, so I was a little bit afraid how I was going to look. But I'm really happy the way I played today.

Q. You challenged two points today. That's still a new thing. Is this long overdue?
IVAN LJUBICIC: No, I think it's good. Like sometimes important points, when you feel the umpire make the wrong call, you can challenge. I think it's only positive.
I had great experience in Miami. Today I missed one by nothing and I made the second one well. I think it's just positive for the game.

Q. Are you confident when you make the challenge or is it something just to try to maybe break up the flow of the game?
IVAN LJUBICIC: No, no. I mean, I'm calling just because I think the call is wrong. I mean, you're never sure. If the ball, it's way out, right on the line, the linesman is going to call it. It's always a very close call.
But I just call it when I think it's a good time to call. For example, today I called two challenges in first three games. If I was wrong on the second one, I wouldn't have any possibilities. But, still, I thought I should go for it.

Q. Were you surprised when he called on match point? Crowd sort of laughed. It was reversed.
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, this is one side of that, he has nothing to lose. He just call it. He was right.
If it was like 6-5 in the third, I would be concerned. 5-1, I think I had at that point the game -- I had the match in my hands.

Q. Can it change the tempo of a match when you do get a call reversed? Do you get a bit more pumped up?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I don't think so. It's like on clay when you ask the umpire to come down and check the mark, it's the same thing. I don't think it can really change the way the match goes.

Q. Bit of a pro Croatian crowd today. Was that something surprising?
IVAN LJUBICIC: No, in Canada and Australia we have always great support. I'm really glad to see the crowd coming up and supporting us. I mean, unfortunately Mario is not here. Well, I hope it's going to be the same crowd next time I'm playing.

Q. How difficult is it to choose how long to take off? Do you think you have the decision correct this time?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, in this part of the season, it's easy. You know, you cannot skip a Masters Series tournament. I knew that Toronto is going to be the first one.
I was a little bit unsure with LA to play or not. I entered that tournament. I had a little bit of back problem. It just didn't make sense for me to force the issue.
You know, one week, I think it's more than enough really, especially in the middle of the season. One thing, it's after the season, when you finish the season, you can take two or three weeks, whatever you think it's appropriate. But in the middle of season, I think one week, it's more than enough.

Q. Do you think this hard court run is a bit too long for a European? It's like seven weeks on the same continent.
IVAN LJUBICIC: Not many really Europeans are coming over and playing, not especially the top ones. Most of the guys, they just do a Canadian Open, Cincy and US Open. I think more difficult for us is the first U.S. swing, Indian Wells, Key Biscayne, four weeks only for two tournaments. If you play well, it's okay. But if you lose first round, Indian Wells, you have a lot of time to play Miami.
But, I mean, I think it's the same thing for Americans when they come to clay court season in spring, in Europe. I think it would be too hard to say it's difficult. It's not difficult. You just choose the tournaments you want to play.

Q. A guy like Marat, just what he needed, playing seven weeks.
IVAN LJUBICIC: He's in a different situation. He didn't play for a long time. He started in, what was the first tournament, Dubai. He definitely needs matches. Is different situation. Of course, all the guys who are coming back, they need to play a little bit more than the guys who play. I mean, I played almost 50 matches in the first half of the season. You have to slow down a little bit, otherwise you going to burn out before the end. That's not what you want.

Q. Looking back at your Wimbledon experience, how do you feel? You played a very long match; narrowly lost it. Do you feel you were playing well enough to have gone a lot further?
IVAN LJUBICIC: It was definitely my best Wimbledon so far. I had a chance, I had a match point, I was serving for the match. I was just not there.
Even after two sets to love up, I didn't feel like I had the match under control. I was just hoping Dimitry is going to miss some balls, which he didn't. Obviously he can do that for a set or two, but not the whole match.
Of course, when you're seeded 4, 5, the draw looks good always. But I just don't feel comfortable on grass, that's the thing. That day was really hot. I think a little bit also French, I played six matches there, then coming straight to Queen's, playing few matches there, staying in London all the time, I think my energy level just went down at the wrong moment.
But that's something that you can't do anything about. It's not like you can take a break after Paris. There's not enough time.

Q. Do you still plan to be someone who succeeds on all the surfaces or will you put that ambition lower down on your priorities?
IVAN LJUBICIC: No, I think I can do well on all surfaces. I show that in my career so far. Did well on clay, hard court, indoors. Grass, it's still not great, but it's only three weeks. I will always try as hard as I can to do well there.
As I said, I think this year's Wimbledon was better. I felt much more comfortable on grass this year than any other year. So maybe next year it's going to be even better.

Q. Do you see anybody getting close to Federer or Nadal throughout the rest of the year?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, it's going to be very hard to catch them this year. But, you know, every year I see it as a different situation. I hope that next year I see like Djokovic, for example, he's a young guy who maybe could do well. I don't know how well, if he can close the gap. Mario, he's young, he can do well as well. Maybe I can do well next year. Nalbandian, he's not -- for my opinion, he's not playing enough. Even if he plays maybe too much, then it wouldn't be good choice either.
Depends how they do. Obviously in this particular moment, they are better than the others. But I think it cannot last forever.

Q. You still hope that you might be one of those who could catch them, do you?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I definitely hope. I mean, I wouldn't be here if I think I cannot beat them. Last matches I played against them, they were always close matches.
But I think if you focus only on those two guys, you will lose the ground against the other players. You have to be careful. You have to focus match by match. I think that's I heard that Andy was saying that his problem was only Roger and he was losing concentration against other guys, so he slipped down a little bit. You have to be careful when you're trying to focus on Nadal and Federer because it's not only them on tour. I think you play your matches and you try to win as many matches as you can. Then when the day comes that you have to play against one or the other, you focus on that match, otherwise it's too dangerous.

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