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June 12, 2005

John McEnroe

Goran Ivanisevic


DAVID LAW: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm sure these two men require little introduction, but just as a brief reminder, John was one of only two men to win here four times, he also lifted the Wimbledon title three times, and he went ballistic at various umpires a total of 6,240 (laughter)....

JOHN McENROE: Thanks, Dave. Appreciate it.

DAVID LAW: (Smiling). Goran never managed to win here; he has always done things a little bit differently. He reached the final in 1997, losing to Mark Philippoussis. He prepared for his fairy-tale Wimbledon win in 2001 by going down valiantly to that world-famous grass court specialist, Cristiano Caratti (laughter). Today John and Goran will meet for the first time on grass in the Stella Artois Challenge, a pro-set match, first to eight games, following the singles final. Questions, please.

Q. What's your next act, David?

DAVID LAW: (Smiling).

Q. When did you discover you were going to be playing here, Goran?

GORAN IVANISEVIC: On Thursday afternoon.

Q. Where were you?

GORAN IVANISEVIC: I was in Split doing something. They called me, so I said, Okay, you know. Anyway on Sundays, you know, I usually go out for lunch. So instead of going for lunch in Zagreb, I can come to London, have lunch, and play with John. It's even better, you know.

Q. Are you fit?

GORAN IVANISEVIC: I am preparing myself. Preparing Senior Tour next week in Croatia and John is coming, so we are in the same group. You know, he's putting a lot of pressure on me, you know; I have to beat him there. So I am trying. I don't know how it's gonna look today, but it's gonna be -- it's funny. It's okay. I'm playing not too much, but just...

Q. Is your shoulder okay?

GORAN IVANISEVIC: Shoulder is... depends of the day, you know, how I wake up. One day is good, the other day hurts. But overall it's okay, I'd say.

Q. Will you come to Wimbledon?

GORAN IVANISEVIC: This year, no. No.

Q. Just simply because you don't really want to be around?

GORAN IVANISEVIC: No, no, it's just they put this Senior Tour, you know, bad timing. Next year they gonna move it, so next year I gonna come and have my afternoon tea with my Wimbledon tie.

Q. How do you think Mario, your friend, will get on this year? What are his chances?

GORAN IVANISEVIC: Well, I think he's one of the favorites. I don't see too many guys can beat him on grass, you know. There is Roger, there is Andy, Henman. And I think he is one of the four, five favorites. So, I mean, so he proved that last year, but it's only different that last year nobody expect anything from him. This year, you know, he is -- they gonna talk about him. He's one of the guys who can win. So I don't -- usually he's good under pressure, so hopefully -- like Wimbledon is different, so I hope he's gonna be okay.

Q. Were you a little surprised he lost to Gasquet here this week?

GORAN IVANISEVIC: I was. I was very surprised that he lost to Gasquet, but it's different grass. Queen's and Wimbledon, you cannot compare the grass here and there. I am also very surprised how good Karlovic played and he's in the final today. But I think Mario is going to do well in Wimbledon. How well, I mean, depends of the draw and depends, you know, him.

Q. What do you think, John? Do you go with any other names you think would be in the frame for Wimbledon?

JOHN McENROE: I think he picked exactly the ones that you expect to be there at the end and win it. And Karlovic, I don't know what his ranking is going to be after this, but he would not be a guy you'd want to play. But I'd be interested to ask Goran - because I haven't played at Wimbledon in many years - the difference between -- you said the grass is a lot different here than at Wimbledon. What's different? What, is it slower here or there?

GORAN IVANISEVIC: I think here is more like hard court. The bounce higher. In Wimbledon, especially first week, the bounces are much lower. So I think is a little faster in Wimbledon. Still, but I think the balls, I noticed last year that it's getting slower and slower. I don't know what they doing, but it probably...

JOHN McENROE: They open the balls, right, a month before the tournament?

Q. What do you think about that? Tim's raised this issue at the French Open. Was that a surprise to you? It's quite unusual, isn't it?

JOHN McENROE: Well, it's surprising in a lot of ways because I've never heard of a tournament that opens the balls weeks before the match. And in addition to that, Slazenger is his company. I mean, he uses a Slazenger racquet. So if anyone would want him to win, it would be them. So it would make no sense to me whatsoever if they actually did that, and it's hard to believe they did do it. I don't know what ended up happening. I thought I heard that they said they hadn't done it.

Q. Now they said that they're not going to do it in the future. So with the pressure...

JOHN McENROE: I'm not sure it mattered a whole lot either way. But if it actually was true, it would be a little bit surprising that you'd open balls like a couple weeks before the tournament.

Q. If I can just go back to the candidates for Wimbledon, John, yourself first, and Goran, if you could also, could we just get your thoughts on Lleyton and Flip, your feelings about the two of them going into The Championships and their chances.

JOHN McENROE: Obviously, they're both somewhat uncertain because, you know, Lleyton has been out for a while. But, I mean, obviously he would be among that -- you know, right below the top, like Roger. After that, there's this group of players, he would be thrown into that group, I'd say. Mark is different because I think he's -- you know, I don't know where he is as far as like his conditioning and how healthy he is, where his desire's at and, you know, how badly he wants it. I mean, certainly by far his best chance would be, like, be here. I'm sure if he's in the right frame of mind and he's conditioned, then there wouldn't be anyone that would want to play him like first round. You know, he's not going to be seeded. But from what I saw like before, like - but that was a while ago, that was, you know, six months ago, around late last year - he was not, you know, healthy enough or in condition to compete at like a high level. I saw that he stopped playing at Key Biscayne and his first tournament back was this week. But I didn't see him play here, so I'm not quite sure where he's at.

Q. Goran?

GORAN IVANISEVIC: I agree with John. I mean, Lleyton, he was already Wimbledon Champion, so he -- I think is gonna peak, his form. I think with Mark is important if he can win one, two matches first two rounds, and then, you know, you never know. But I don't understand what happened to him, you know. But nobody wants to play him first round, that's for sure. A guy serve like that, and he knows how to volley. He knows how to play, I mean, on grass, so it's gonna be interesting to see.

Q. Goran, do you see any parallels between yourself a couple years ago and Mark? You were 100-and-something in the world, got a wildcard into Wimbledon. He's in a sort of similar situation.

GORAN IVANISEVIC: Who knows, you know. But, you know, it's tough that it happens twice in couple of years. But I like Mark. He's a nice guy. It's -- who knows? It depends of the draw, you know. He needs to have a little bit easier draw in the first two rounds, you know. And then, you know, when you pass one, two rounds, then you get little confident, you start to play better, and who knows. But still, you know, Roger is main favorite, and I think if he plays normal, nobody can beat him on grass.

Q. Goran, we were speaking to Tim Henman on Friday. He was saying that he hasn't played well at Wimbledon since 2001. He says his last decent game was possibly before your semi.

GORAN IVANISEVIC: Before the rain came, you know (laughing).

Q. Does that surprise you? Do you think maybe his best chances have gone now?

GORAN IVANISEVIC: I cannot say best chance. Probably that was the best chance, but then English weather help me, not him, you know (smiling). And so that was best chance. But he still has a chance. For me, Tim Henman always has a chance to win Wimbledon. He has the perfect game for the grass - actually, for any surface, but especially for grass. So, for me, he is always favorite and he has the game to win. So maybe this year, maybe next year, who knows? But he was the closest, that was for sure. Because usually he was losing to Sampras in the semis. And then I showed up, and then they saw the chance. But, you know, fourth and fifth set... And that match he didn't play well, I played better; that's why I won.

Q. What has to happen, either what does Tim have to do, or what has to happen in the draw for him to win, do you think?

GORAN IVANISEVIC: I don't know. He just has to believe and I think play well. I don't know. Draw, doesn't matter too much, draw, for him. I think he's capable to beat anybody there, even Roger. So draw, he knows how to play on grass. But he has a huge pressure, I mean, on him. Is always, you know, when Wimbledon starts, you know, it starts Henmania and then, you know, everybody is waiting for him to do something. So last year he was a big favorite; he play very badly, I think. So we'll see.

Q. John, if Federer is obviously the favorite, should we read too much into his defeat by Nadal coming into Wimbledon?

JOHN McENROE: Well, I think it's great for tennis, especially if Nadal -- and he seems so eager, and he's proven he can play some pretty good tennis on hard courts. It remains to be seen what he can do right now on grass. I don't think he's ready for this like major breakthrough on grass, but I think it's a good shot in the arm for the sport because the way he plays, he loves playing and he's really enthusiastic. But as far as Roger, it's pretty much I agree with what Goran said - if he plays well, there's no way he's going to lose. I mean, how is Henman gonna win it? Well, if Roger loses to someone or plays poorly. You know, I could see him not playing his best and winning. That's how like much better he is like on this surface. When it gets to like hard courts, then you can throw other guys in the mix, like Safin if he's hot, and some other players. Nadal has come into the mix, and hopefully Andy is going to sort of get back on the right track. He seems to have sort of leveled off this year, but I thought Andy played the best match I ever saw him play last year in the final, and Roger didn't play his best, and Roger still won. So that just shows you how good he is. I thought Andy played great, especially in the beginning. So it's a tall order. It's like, you know, beating Pete. It's the same type of situation. I mean, it's really, really difficult if he's on his game. And he found a way even when he wasn't playing his best.

Q. By saying this, do you think we've got quite a few more years of Roger Federer like Sampras?

JOHN McENROE: I would certainly think so, yeah. I mean, when I saw him win the first one, I thought he'd win at least five. There's no reason for me to think otherwise at the moment.

Q. Do you think he can match Pete's record?

JOHN McENROE: Well, everyone -- that's very difficult, obviously, to win seven. I think, what is it, 13 or 14 overall?

Q. Fourteen.

JOHN McENROE: Fourteen. So that's, obviously -- for anyone, even Roger, it's going to be difficult. But would it be possible? If there was a guy that could do it, it would be him. Let's put it that way.

Q. Considering, John, your grass court record, what would you have to do to beat Roger if you were playing him?

JOHN McENROE: The way to beat like a great player is -- I don't think I could match him, his game, but you just play with like as much intensity as possible. I mean, if a guy feels that you really want it really badly, I think that at least levels the playing field a little bit. I mean, that's why Nadal is so tough right now, because he plays every point hard. And he does, he seems completely fearless and he looks like he really loves the competition. It's that, you know -- the beauty of being young. He doesn't know better yet. But it's great to see. So that's intimidating. That's an incredible weapon. So that would be my best bet, just trying to sort of -- if the people, you know, impose like a will, because his game is awesome.

Q. Is he or Gasquet out of any of the youngsters the most exciting prospect?

JOHN McENROE: You know, it's obvious it remains to be seen. I mean, Gasquet, it's good to see he's made a lot of progress the last six months. That's what's fun about watching and coming back, you see a couple new guys come into the mix. I mean, you know, Ancic is a good example, I mean, because you sort of expect or wait and see now because he got to the semis last year, like what's gonna happen this year because now the pressure is on him.

Q. Another one of the youngsters, Andrew Murray, is quoted as saying he'd love to be coached by someone like yourself.

JOHN McENROE: Well, this has sort of been talked about a little bit, and for whatever reason it just hasn't happened. I think Andrew is a talent, you know. I said that when we talked about this last year. For whatever reason, the people at the LTA or whoever, it just hasn't happened. It's somewhat disappointing. But he could use some, you know -- whatever happens, I'm just glad he's not in the situation he was in when I heard in December. I mean, I think that's a step in the right direction.

Q. Would you like to coach him?

JOHN McENROE: Well, I'd like to work with him. I'm not gonna travel the circuit with him. But there's people, there's plenty of people. Goran could help him if he wanted to. There's experienced people that have credentials that he should turn to in my opinion. Doesn't mean that they go full-time, but he could -- he could have a good setup, because he's got enough talent that I think he would warrant some real attention.

Q. Can you maybe both assess him, tell us what you think of his game.

JOHN McENROE: Well, he's still evolving. I mean, he still seems to be potentially growing a bit. And, you know, obviously, he's got some issues because it's unusual to cramp in the third set of a two-out-of-three grass court match. But then again that's happened to other players, you know, other top-notch players. Roddick cramped in the French. I mean, that was best-of-five and that was after four hours, but nonetheless he seems to have overcome that. Chang cramped and actually somehow found his way through winning. So this isn't something that necessarily is going to stay with him, but it's a concern. If you've turned your ankle five times in two years, or you've got -- that's a worry. His talent's there, but he's still green. You know, but he's come -- he's headed in the right direction.

Q. Goran?

GORAN IVANISEVIC: I don't know him very well. I saw him last year when John played him in... when was it?

JOHN McENROE: Yeah, he wasn't too impressed with him there (smiling).

GORAN IVANISEVIC: John gave him a little lesson, tennis lesson. I can't say anything, you know.

Q. He beat Johansson this week.

GORAN IVANISEVIC: Yeah, he played good, I heard, this week, and he's very talented. I mean, but I cannot tell anything because I saw him like 15 minutes last year, and I have to see more. But it's good for English tennis that somebody else after Tim came. That's all credit to Tim, because he did a lot for tennis here.

Q. Goran, there's some suggestion he might go to Bob Brett. Would that be a good thing?


Q. Murray.

GORAN IVANISEVIC: That would be a very good thing for him. I think Bob help Ancic.

JOHN McENROE: I thought he only worked with Croatians, Bob (laughter)?

GORAN IVANISEVIC: Yeah, but Bob worked with this guy who won a French Open. He's 16 years old, and he won French Open. He beat Murray. So Bob likes Croatians (laughter).

Q. You were relatively young when you were with Bob. What does Bob have that helps?

GORAN IVANISEVIC: He's great for this. He taught a lot -- I mean, he taught me a lot off the court how to behave. Couple of times -- I mean, with Ancic, he taught him to volley. Ancic didn't know how to volley before. I mean, he did a great job. And he told me I was the craziest guy he ever worked with - you know, for sure (laughter). But we have the best relation. We still great friends. I mean, he really -- he knows. He knows. He work with Boris, with a lot of big names. You know, he knows. He knows what he's doing. He believes what he's doing. I think he can help anybody, especially Murray, because he's young and now he needs somebody to push him a little bit.

JOHN McENROE: He worked with -- I worked with him not individually but way back when I was like a teenager. He comes out of the Harry Hopman mold. Harry was his guy, and so he just got the credential, and he's got results. There's a guy that's like -- there's an example of a guy that would make sense at the very least to try - at the very least. Because he's got a lot of credential.

Q. Does Andy remind you particularly of any other players in the past?

JOHN McENROE: Not particularly, no. You know, he's sort of this new style of play, but hopefully he can learn to play on all surfaces. He's a lanky guy, but he sort of -- you know, you watch guys. Guys just sort of -- you look at certain guys, they just know how to play. You know, he's one of those guys that, to me, was born to be a tennis player; now he's got to take advantage of that talent.

Q. Maria Sharapova is complaining about her back. Do you think she can overcome that and win Wimbledon?

JOHN McENROE: Something tells me that at 18, she can overcome it, you know. Ask her when she's 46, how her back -- you know, when a guy 46 says he's got a bad back, you take him more seriously.

DAVID LAW: Ladies and gentlemen, just before we leave, I have a very brief presentation to make to these two players. As you may know, I am a West Bromwich Albion supporter and I have suffered with them this year, and both of these two men have provided me much counseling over the course of the past few months. I did promise them a shirt if we stayed...


DAVID LAW: So...(handing John McEnroe and Goran Ivanisevic West Bromwich Albion jerseys). Goran... (applause).

End of FastScripts….

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