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August 10, 2006

Ivan Ljubicic



Q. Quite the marathon match. In my estimation, over a hundred winners combined. Do you feel you had to play your best tennis today?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I think it was a fantastic match, really. I felt in the beginning I was -- I felt like I was if not at the same level, then playing better. I was break down. That was a little bit frustrating in that first set. But then after I broke him in the second, also mentally I came back. From then on, I think was fantastic match without many unforced errors, a lot of winners.
I think was really fantastic match. You know, he's obviously playing fantastic tennis. Yesterday he beat 2-1 Ferrero. I think I played really good. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to win.

Q. Moves really well side to side. Can that frustrate you in a long rally? Sometimes you tried to make a dropshot to try to finish him off.
IVAN LJUBICIC: I don't think dropshot is a good idea. If he's fast side to side, he's also fast up front. Frustrating? Of course, I would prefer someone who is not running that well. But, you know, there are a lot of guys out there who are running well. With Rafael and him, I think they are -- these two guys are one of the best movers around.

Q. Three-hour match, heat plays a big part. What seemed to be the important part of handling that, to keep hydrated?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, today was -- fortunately was not that hot. Still you have to, as you said, be careful. I started to drink water the night before because, you know, when you play 11:00, you don't manage really to intake as much fluid as you want in that short a period of time when you wake up. So I started to drink last night. You have to drink all morning. Just hope that you're going to drink enough.
Once the match starts, sometimes it's too late to drink. If you drink just during the match, then it's just not enough.

Q. Can you talk with González and his maturation as a player? Wasn't long ago he would go out and bash the ball all over the place. Now he's mixing it up.
IVAN LJUBICIC: I mean, exactly what you said. He's much more solid now. Before he was just cracking the ball as hard as he can, he was making a lot of errors. Now he's different player.
It comes with the time. He realized that, as before we mentioned how well he moves, so he doesn't have to hit every ball, but he still can do it when he wants.
I think with the time, with his experience, he's going to be better and better player every day. Also I remember he used to do like 15 double-faults. Now he knows he's going for it when he thinks he should, he's putting a lot of first serves on important points. He's definitely better player now. I would not be surprised to see him back in top 10.

Q. How tricky was the wind today?
IVAN LJUBICIC: It's okay. I think was more or less all the time one-sided. It's okay. If the wind changes a lot, then it's tricky. If goes just one side, which I think when I played from right side of the chair umpire, was in favor. So you just use it when you can.
It's pretty much the same for both guys. I don't think was really big influence on the game.

Q. That shot at the baseline, you got it with your backhand, did you surprise yourself? Looked remarkable.
IVAN LJUBICIC: Oh, yeah, was a set point, first set. No, I mean, I went right. I saw it was there. I just turned and hit the ball cleanly (smiling). I do sometimes in the practice. You actually never try in a match.
It's just amazing, I think now he's seventh guy who pass me through the legs. I don't know if it's me or what is it. I barely ever see my opponent missing that shot. It's just incredible.
When I played that lob, I saw him go back. I said, Jesus, here we are go again. When I going right, he goes left. When I going left, he's going right. It's hard to predict. Plus he hit the net.
It is really frustrating. You play great shot. You see guy running back, through the legs. Where is it going? Who knows. Then, boom, winner every time. It was important point. Was end of the second set, something like that.
We had a couple highlights there. It was great match.

Q. Aside from the Croatian fans, you're still a bit of an unknown among casual tennis fans. Do you feel like a top five player in the world? Do you enjoy the anonymity?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I feel like number three in the world, which I'm going to be on Monday. I don't know. I'm doing whatever I can to promote myself. But it's not easy these days.
I have to say it's a little bit frustrating. Also in Gstaad three weeks ago, I was No. 1 seed, I was doing credentials, they ask me if I'm a coach or a player. Here I came, the woman asked me, Are you qualifier or main draw? It's fine when you're 20, 30. But when you're No. 3, 4 in the world, it's not easy.
Maybe, as you said, it's also big positive side of it. You didn't get bothered too much.

Q. Is that because you really haven't hit your peak until you're 27? Is that the reason?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I wouldn't say it's only my fault. I think all the people are doing that are talking about Federer and Nadal. Of course, it's right because they're winning everything. I don't know. As I said, I'm trying my best. I'm sorry that I was not better player before. Here I am right now. I hope I'm going to stay here for a long time.

Q. Now that you're No. 3, is it possible to think about No. 2 and No. 1?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, yeah, now in this particular moment, we're talking, it's really hard, especially after me losing this match.
But we'll see. I mean, we have to be patient. It's not going to be even easy to defend No. 3 spot. These two guys are just playing too well at the moment. It's hard to think about it.
But even if you think too hard, you don't think at all, the only thing what you can do is win matches. I'm going to definitely try. At US Open, all the majors, it's very important to make points because those points, they're counting for the ranking. Doesn't matter how well you do.
I still think in this particular moment, I think they are too good for the others. But you just never know. We have a lot of points at stake for the next three, four months.

Q. There was the one challenge there, extremely close, looked like a millimeter. Is that the closest line call you've seen?
IVAN LJUBICIC: That González did? Yeah, I mean, that was the first thing we were talking about after the match in the locker room. He said, Did you see that shot? I said, Yes. The rule is, if there's no space between the ball and the line, then the ball is good. It looked like there there was no space. But they called it out.
I told him, I think like if you zoom even more, then you would probably see it. I don't know. These computers, they just call it. I don't know. I had a couple calls.
You just feel it. As a player, I missed really few of them. I made a lot of good challenges. You just feel it. You go for it. Of course, what we both did in the tiebreak, you just go for it because we have three left and you have nothing to lose. But usually at least me, I mean, I just feel if it's good or not.

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