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March 29, 2007

Ivan Ljubicic


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Luby, pretty clean match. Couple of burps early in the second set but you got through those?
IVAN LJUBICIC: In the first, and beginning of the second, I was a little bit maybe too relaxed after the 5-1 lead. I just felt like he can't hurt me anymore, and then he started to play a little bit better. I was rushing a little bit more.
But I think the serving in the second set was much better and I could rely on that weapon any time I needed. So it's good.

Q. I don't know if it's important to you to keep track of the fastest serve, but you did have a 140 today. Have you ever hit 140 before?
IVAN LJUBICIC: 144, I've had. I never try to go really full speed; I prefer accuracy than the power. And that's why you see me on top of the rankings of the aces, I think. To get an ace, you need accuracy, not really just the power. And I like to mix up the serve. But yeah, down the middle I go sometimes pretty quick.

Q. Was this a good opponent for you? Chela's a little impatient at times?
IVAN LJUBICIC: He obviously doesn't like to play me. We've played now six times, I've won all six matches. And even on clay, we played, and it's just something in my game that he doesn't like.

Q. Yeah, you keep the ball in the court?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Yeah, well, that's the key, I guess. If you want to win matches, you want to keep the ball in the court.

Q. They mentioned something the other day on TV about you starting some sort of Davis Cup petition with 20 other players?
IVAN LJUBICIC: No, I'm not starting any petition, it's completely wrong. We had a discussion at Indian Wells that most of the big number of the top 20 players like to see Davis Cup right after Grand Slams, because it suits our schedule much better than what it is at the moment. Now we have to play Davis Cup, then one week of tournaments, and then Davis Cup and then we cannot create swings, kind of.
All the players agreed that that would be better, it's just that the idea until a few weeks ago didn't want to talk about it. Now they understood that the players really like to see that, so now they're open for discussion. It's nice to see that finally we are on the table talking and seeing what they can do for us, and what we can do for them.

Q. Not at Roland Garros though, right?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Sorry? No. No. No. We're talking about after US Open and after Australia. Those two weeks for us is very important not to have -- like the US Open and Davis Cup, and then for example Asian swing. We can go to Asia and play three tournaments in a row. Because at the moment there is Beijing, and then a week of Davis Cup, and then other tournaments in Asia. So it's really not easy to create those swings.
Or after Australia for me, I play Zagreb, which is first week after Australia, I maybe have to fly somewhere for Davis Cup and then I have to come back to play indoors, it makes sense.

Q. Is this something formal? Is it something in writing?
IVAN LJUBICIC: We just went around to see what the top 20 players think about it. They all agreed. We signed a paper that we really feel that way. Not like we're not going to play, no, that's never going to happen. But just like all the players signed that they would prefer -- not all, one or two were missing out of the top 20. But most of us feel like that makes sense.

Q. ITF hear you out?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Yeah, they understood the point. And now we're talking about they would want something in return.

Q. We saw the full impact of your game today, the power of your big serve, but also the high topspin, the deep shots, the great backhand slice. How long did it take to you develop all this stuff?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, it took time. The most important thing in tennis is that you find your game, that's the most important thing. You have to trust it. That's one of the things that Roger keeps also saying. I don't want to go too much left or right from my game plan. This is also my case.
Of course, to play this kind of game, I need great physical -- I need great fitness. That's why I'm much better in 2003, and started to work with Salvador Sosa, a great fitness coach. We have to get all that together.
I'm not Andre agassi or I don't know, someone who is hitting every ball as hard as he can. I have to try to mix up my rotations and try to win points in three, four different ways, not only one way.

Q. You have a way of lulling players almost to sleep with these slice cross-court backhanded volleys, and then bang, up the line?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Yeah, well, that's the game plan. You discovered it.

Q. How do you do that?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Of course, you have to practice it. If I hit a good slice crosscourt, I know there's not many guys out there who can do something with that ball. So they usually hit it back crosscourt. If that ball sits high enough that I can rip it, I just go for it. If it's low, then I slice it again. It depends what you see.
If they go to my forehand, I go to their forehand. Let's roll the ball. I like to stay in the point as long as I can until I find a ball I want to hit.

Q. It was kind of a funny match today. You're missing some of the easy shots. Then when you finally got the break, you hit a spectacular and difficult shot, the crosscourt pass that went off his racquet for 15-40. But then one point earlier, you miss the volley that should have went in?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I was a little frustrated today -- I mean, frustrated. I was a little bit nervous because I did miss some shots that I felt like I shouldn't. Today is difficult for me to play because it was really pretty warm and humid, and I play natural gut, full natural gut. When you play full natural gut, then the tension goes down very quickly. So I had problems with the tension of my racquet.
First few games was okay, but then it goes down quickly. So I cannot go for the shot that I like to. And sometimes I miss shots just because the ball just flies away.
But you have to try to focus. In the second set I kind of was never there on his service games, but I knew if I win the first two points of the game, then in that game I can put pressure on him. That's exactly what happened.

Q. No Luxilon?
IVAN LJUBICIC: No, I never tried it. When I played I never played with Luxilon, I played with synthetic mixed with gut. Now that I'm playing with Head, I use full gut, which is okay, but when it's this hot, I have some problems.
But I am going to change for clay. I have to go with something synthetic, because gut is not going to last more than 15 minutes.

Q. Before you do that, let's think about this tournament. Possibly Robredo, possibly Cañas, and how would you match up with those two players?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I think I played Cañas once, here, seven years ago, maybe. It was a long time ago. But that match doesn't mean anything. I saw him with Roger the other day, and I saw him. He is rock solid on the baseline. His short swings, he's not missing anything. You give him a short ball, he can go for it.
He improved his serve a lot. That is something that he really improved a lot. Before the suspensions, he was not serving that well.
Then Tommy, hits also very, very solid, but he plays much higher balls. Sometimes off the backhand you can find short balls that you can maybe do something with it.
And Cañas is, I think, much more solid in the sense that he can also do something. He can make some damage also from the baseline.

Q. Cañas' backhand looks much better than it was before the suspension, but still not his best shot. Can you attack it, come to the net?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I see that he's using a lot of topspin lob off the backhand. He did a lot with Roger, and also before. So we have to be careful. We cannot go into the match with anything. Definitely he's not going to stay back and wait until he misses a shot; that's not going to happen, of course. So I have to try the slices, short slices or high balls to create opportunities to go for something.

Q. How do you like your chances with this group of guys now?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, they're all great players. I mean Djokovic and Murray are playing fantastic tennis lately. And I predicted that they're going to be newcomers, let's say in Top 10 this year. Djokovic is already there, not yet, but I think it's a matter of weeks until he gets there, and they are good players.
I think Djokovic has shown unbelievable tennis at Indian Wells and here so far. It's going to be very difficult to beat him. I think Murray is going to have difficulties to beat him, but anyone in the finals, as well. But I think it's going to be interesting to see these two youngsters going against each other.
And Cañas and Robredo, they're all very solid players. They're not missing anything. So I hope the conditions are going to be nice. I need to hit a lot of winners against these guys. So I need no wind, no sunshine, and I hopefully am going to play night tomorrow, so I like my chances, we'll see.

Q. Some of the South American fans tend to be a little more vocal. Today they were a little like that. Is that something you notice? Does it affect your game at all?
IVAN LJUBICIC: No, it doesn't affect it. I have enough Davis Cup matches, I'm used to playing against the crowd. It's not a problem. When you win straight sets, you try not to involve the crowd too much. And I think I did it well today.

Q. Two unrelated questions. What do you do in your preparation for the off season, are there specific events in your mind that you're working towards?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Specific events?

Q. Yeah, like I want to do Davis Cup, I want to do well at this Grand Slam, or do you just try to take it month by month?
IVAN LJUBICIC: You obviously put the goals of the season, and that's all. It's going to be always Grand Slams and Master Series, and if you can put in Davis Cup, it's of course, very important. Ranking you kind of work it through all the year for that. But you don't want to put too many goals out there, because it's already very difficult to win any match.
My, let's say now, goal for the next three, four years is to try to stay Top 10 as long as I can; try to stay fit and not get injured and to win any match that I play, because I'm not going to play 25 tournaments anymore. I want to play really 20 tournaments. Those tournaments are always going to be the big tournaments. If I manage to win one of them, it's going to be a big win.

Q. The women have announced they're going to Madrid before the French. How far away are the men from going to Madrid, as well?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I don't know. I know there are applications at the moment going on, and we'll see. But I know that they are interested. They'd like to see combined event. We'll see. I think in three, four weeks we're going to know more about it. But I think it's pretty -- sounds like pretty close.

Q. Ivan, you can't just take Cañas' wins over Federer and say there's a secret to be gained there because not everybody plays like he plays. But is there something in those two matches that you see that helps you?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I didn't see Indian Wells match, but I saw this one here. It's not science fiction. I think if you can be as solid as Willie off the baseline and if you force Roger to hit winners off the baseline for three hours, obviously he's going to miss some.
He lost some matches against Rafa for that same reason last year. He lost to Cañas this year twice. So this is, when it's windy like this, like here in Miami, you don't want to be forced to hit winners off the baseline; that's not the easiest thing in the world to do. That's, I think, one of the reasons why Cañas managed to beat Roger, or Roger beat himself. I think there were a lot of unforced errors out there.

Q. I mean, Murray did it last year, for example; there's another retriever?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I mean, yeah, Andy is not managing to beat him even though I had the matchpoints in the Master Cup. I was close a couple of times, but it looks like he struggles more against solid players than big hitters.

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