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March 18, 2009

Ivan Ljubicic


I. LJUBICIC/I. Andreev
4-6, 7-6, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You feel in good shape after that, three hours, six minutes?
IVAN LJUBICIC: No, I don't think it was a lot about running. It was a lot of hard hitting and three hours of sun. I don't think it was -- physically not really demanding. Obviously I iced my shoulder after, but that's about it.

Q. How did you manage to get out of it? He was hitting big forehands.
IVAN LJUBICIC: Yes. Really, from my match against Simon and this guy, you can't really have two different guys.
Simon is playing slow and flat, and this is like big wave coming at you all the time. So it was completely different.
So it took me some time to get used to his game. He was serving unbelievable today, as well. It was not easy.
I had some chances to break him, but every time he came up with great shots. So I'm, of course, really pleased to save these match points and be able to win it.

Q. You seem to have rediscovered your form again. What's changed?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I don't think I was playing -- I think one match that was, maybe two this year that I was really disappointed with. That was Troicki in Zagreb and against Murray in Rotterdam that I really think I played, you know, low-level tennis.
The rest I was losing to Feliciano when I was 3 in the world, No. 3 seed in the US Open. I lost to him first round in the US Open. David Ferrer, I beat him once first time we played, and then I lost to him ever since.
So I was losing to the players I can't lose, and I didn't feel like -- my game was long way from where I want to be. So I was really looking forward for this tournament, because I always played well here and felt the ball well.
This is my fifth year in a row that I'm at least in the fourth round. I think last four years I lost three times to Roger and one to Andy Roddick. I know that first round I can't play against one of them, so that kind of helped.
Nishikori first round, just to get the rhythm. I was really lucky, unfortunately for Mario, that he was doing better, thank God. But then you get going. Then you have couple matches under your belt and then you're back in there.
So I still feel like physically I'm feeling good. Experience is there, of course. I'm playing good tennis. I'm really not shocked for the result.

Q. It's just confidence?
IVAN LJUBICIC: It is. When you lose first, first, first, what happened to me, but, you know, Murray, Lopez and David Ferrer, nothing you can really do.
You can step back and play some challengers, but I don't think that's really a good move. I was really looking forward to play this tournament, here and Miami. I have fourth round to defend here. I managed to do that. I lost first round last year, so it's all positive from now.

Q. You turn 30 tomorrow, don't you?

Q. You played this long match and now you have to go out there tomorrow and play a guy who got a default?
IVAN LJUBICIC: That's big advantage for him. There's no question about that. That's the way it is.
But I had similar situation against Simon. He was playing two-and-a-half hours against Lu, and I played twenty minutes, so it happens. You have to deal with it.
But I don't think tomorrow is going to be a matter of physic. I think it's going to be who's going to play better. I'm really looked forward to that challenge. I played many matches on that center court, and I always felt comfortable out there. We'll see how it's going to happen.
Of course, I have nothing to lose. He's a big favorite, and anything that happens to me, it's all positive. It's been a while since I didn't play without that pressure. I feel like I'm 18 again without anything to lose. Whatever comes, it's all positive. Nice feeling.

Q. You're not totally tired and wiped out right now?
IVAN LJUBICIC: No, no. As I said, it wasn't really physically demanding, that match. It was more mental and hanging in there without having any chances and serving big.
Of course, the sun was there, but playing with the hat and sun screen, it's normal stuff. I don't think it was really physically demanding, that match today.

Q. Did you save four match points?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I'm not sure.

Q. Five?
IVAN LJUBICIC: It was five.

Q. How about the controversy calls or no calls at all?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Please don't go there. It's rare to see that both guys complain to the umpire at the same time. Tells you everything.
I mean, I had a couple bad experiences with Fergus. First time that it happens, you know, you kind of get all that bad feelings from the past and it just can't control it.
But, you know, I guess he didn't do, you know, the great job either.

Q. Do you think there's some officials or umpires who want to have a sense of control in the match?
IVAN LJUBICIC: No, no. I just don't think that -- some of the umpires are not at the level of us. That's it. Some umpires, they just can't handle the pressure.
I don't think they want to be in the middle of the attention. I just feel that sometimes the umpires feel the pressure and just make wrong decisions, which for me it's bad, because I don't mind if the umpire doesn't see the ball. It happens. We challenge the balls and mostly we are wrong, so you can always not see the ball.
But when you make wrong decisions when you don't know all the rules of the game, that is where I get really frustrated. I think that's what happened today.

Q. Roger is going to be a father, and you're well used to the difficulties of that.
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, used to it. It's just at the beginning.

Q. The difficulties of traveling and things like that, what would your advice be to him?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I think he's going to handle it much easier than me. It's a different class.

Q. How difficult is it?
IVAN LJUBICIC: It's not that difficult. With small kids -- I think it's easier when they start growing up. My son is four-and-a-half months. It's still okay.
He gets used to jet lag in two days. To me, it's much more. He's fine. It's not really that. It's just that your life changes completely. Priorities are different. You're not the one in the family who's the most important. You kind of lose your wife for a while.
But it's beautiful. I mean, it's fantastic experience. When you walk out on that court and you see him, no matter what you do, it's a great day. Gives you that extra energy, and I'm sure Roger will do the same.

Q. Lots of people think the burden or the things that come with it might affect his tennis.
IVAN LJUBICIC: I think Roger always handles the pressure, and I'm sure he's going to do the same with this. He enjoys this sport so much that he doesn't really need to be focused 24 hours a day to play well. He proved that many times in the past.
I'm sure it's going to be a shock for him. There's no question for that. But I'm sure they will handle the situation quite well very quickly.

Q. But in your case, your wife travels with you. Is she going to other tournaments?
IVAN LJUBICIC: This is the first one, so it's a long one. What we try to do is not to stay away from each other more than two weeks. That's our kind of goal. This is a long trip, Indian Wells and Miami. It's a month.
They were not at the tournaments in Rotterdam and Dubai and Marseilles, three weeks. So it felt kind of a little bit too much. In Europe it's kind of easier. You can always catch each other anywhere. These long ones we'll try to travel together.

Q. So this is wild speculation, but let's say Mirka is due the last week of Roland Garros, last week of the center court All England Club. Just go and go bedside to see the birth, I presume. What are your thoughts on that?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I think it's a good problem to have, you know, the final of Wimbledon. But I don't know. I'm not sure, really. I was really lucky because my son was born on 5th of November, so it's perfect. Really excellent.
We could spend two months together before going to Australia, so I was really lucky.
But we'll see how willing Federer is going to -- when he's going to decide to come out.

Q. Some players, after they get an unfortunate call, disintegrate. You did not. Do you have a system for trying to recover after you get a bad break like that?
IVAN LJUBICIC: There's not much you can do. I really try not to look at the umpire and think about it. That's really it.
The more you think about it, of course you lose concentration and energy. Sometimes, like today, I think I managed it pretty well. Sometimes I always lose it completely. Depends of the day.
Today I really felt like, okay, I lost a couple matches because of this guy. I don't want to allow that to happen again. I kind of kept my focus, but it's not easy. It's definitely not easy.

Q. Murray has improved obviously in the last six months. In your eyes, how? And are you surprised to the intent to which he's improved since August?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I think the thing that he improved is the serve and physic. I see him really fit and strong physically and serving much harder than before.
These are the two things he improved a lot. Obviously his backhand is one of the best in the world and forehand is going to always be his weaker side. Great touch, great returns. The rest is there. Obviously that physic that he's having now and confidence that he gained by winning all those matches is something that he didn't have before.
Then, as I said, he's serving much stronger. Sometimes percentage of the first serve is not up there where he would love it to be, but he can get away with his serve much more now than before.

Q. I'd like to go back to your friend Roger. The very striking moment at the awards ceremony in Melbourne, some said when he teared up if athletes should control themselves and it was not appropriate. Others felt it was touching and revealed his human side. What were your thoughts about that?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I mean, it was tough to see. He's really a close friend of mine. It was not easy to see him in those emotions.
But I understand completely how he felt. He's the one who was crying even when he wins. If you cry both ways, for me, it's kind of okay. When you cry when you lose and you're okay when you win, it's...
But it was difficult. I understood. I think he had that match on his racquet. Just slipped away. Obviously he found out that he was expecting and his girlfriend, so all those emotions.
Obviously he's looking for that record of Sampras. All those things when they come together -- I mean, he said it. Sometimes when you lose a match you can go back to the locker room and take a shower and you're okay. But you have to be out there and it was not easy.

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