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March 21, 2010
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
I. LJUBICIC/A. Roddick
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. It's about time you time won one of these.
IVAN LJUBICIC: Yeah, it is. I was -- there were times 2005, 2006, when I really felt like I deserved one. Madrid, I was break up in the fifth against Rafa in the final. Tomas Berdych, Bercy, lost in five. Not really the one I lost in Miami to Roger. I mean, it was three tiebreaks, but he was dominating it.
But, I mean, looking at my career, you know, in general, I did feel like, you know, I was missing it. It's really fantastic feeling to finally have it.
You know, it gives something special to your career. You know, it's just another thing that after Davis Cup, Olympic medal and two top 10 finishes, one top 5 finish and now in Masters 1000, as well, so it makes everything look -- I mean, looking better actually.
Q. So what's the next ambition?
IVAN LJUBICIC: This wasn't really ambition. (laughter.)
I was just taking it match by match and everything was just happening. I mean, I can't ignore now I'm probably gonna be 13, 14. I want to fight for London and try to finish top 10 another year. But it's not gonna be easy, that's for sure.
Just, you know, the fact that I'm -- that I won here doesn't make me, you know, No. 3, 5 player in the world. I have to be realistic enough and try to steal that maybe 7th or 8th spot from younger guys who might be injured or not fit and not, you know, consistent enough (laughter.)
But it's a long season in front of us, so who knows what it's gonna bring us.
Q. You're going on to clay, which is probably not your best surface, but...
IVAN LJUBICIC: I love it. No, not really. I mean, my best Grand Slam result was at the French Open. Last year I have had two quarterfinals at Masters in Madrid and Monte-Carlo.
I love playing on clay. My new ranking is gonna to help me, you know, to be seed and not play best guys at the beginning.
So we'll see what's gonna happen. One thing is sure: I'm not gonna play with a lot of pressure. You could see that today. I was relaxed really throughout the match and really enjoying it.
You can expect more of that in the future.
Q. How much does this extra relaxation, new fitness regime, the quality of this win change your outlook for this year?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, it's gonna relax me even more. I'm not gonna, you know, react on expectations now from media, from public, from people, from anybody.
I know, you know, what I can do. I also know that, you know, the fact that I won here doesn't mean I'm gonna win Miami or I'm gonna...
You know, I just need to be realistic and try to consolidate these results with some other solid results, work on my body, and make sure I stay fit and I can compete.
I know how difficult it is to beat me, to beat myself, and I'm gonna give a hard time to everybody who is gonna be on the other side of the net. That's the only thing I can promise at the moment.
Q. You're not going to take Davydenko's approach, saying people should be scared of you?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I don't think they should be scared of me. I'm not gonna hit anybody. (laughter.)
They can be concerned about the outcome of the match against me, but they shouldn't be scared, no.
Q. You were gracious on court when you spoke about Andy, but some people sort of dismiss his game as just power only. Could you talk about what he brings to the sport of tennis and what you value, what you see?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Exactly what I said. I mean, the amount of energy, the amount of effort he gives not only to every match, but to every practice session that he hits is just remarkable.
I knew -- I'm talking to my physio, my coach and everybody, and I still feel like both Andy and I are playing at the moment better tennis than when we had our best rankings.
I mean, I think he's playing much better tennis than when he was No. 1 in the world in 2003. I think I'm playing better tennis now than in 2006 when I was No. 3 in the world.
It's just that these young guys are incredibly fit and good. The fact that he is there in top 10 for 30 years or -- that's exaggerating, but it's there for a long, long, long time. A lot of people would say only with the serve, but that's not true.
You can't be top 10 for 10 years only with the serve. He's incredible competitor, and I'm -- of course Roger is my friend, but I really feel sorry for Andy not winning that Wimbledon.
Because as I deserved to have won one Masters 1000 title, he definitely deserves to have one Wimbledon title. He is after Roger the best grass court player that we have in this generation.
Q. You say he's playing better now than...
IVAN LJUBICIC: Yeah, his backhand. I remember playing him those years, 2002, 2003. It was basically find his backhand two times in a row and you win a point.
Now his backhand is fantastic shot. It's really solid. He can slice it now. He couldn't slice it before. His volleys are much more solid now than they were.
He has improved incredibly. You have to in order to stay in the elite for such a long time. You have to improve every day. You can't just, you know, be good and then stay that level, because then you're just gonna go down.
Q. Can you talk about your play today in the tiebreakers?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I think it was more mental, both tiebreaks. I felt more relaxed, especially in the second tiebreak. In fact, there was some strange things happening by the end of that match.
But, I mean, that just shows you how relaxed I was. I felt after that long point that I break him in the beginning of the tiebreak, mini break, you know, I just felt, if I can -- after 2-1, if I can come up with two big serves that all the pressure is gonna be on him.
In fact, that's exactly what happened. I came you mean with two big serves, 4-1. I felt he was under pressure, I was just pushing the ball in, and he missed another forehand.
And 5-1, you know, it's almost all over. You know, 5-2 I -- at 5-1 I played that stupid dropshot that I should never do, but I got away with it.
At 5-2 I came to the net, surprised him actually. I don't think he was expecting that. In fact, he -- I was forcing him to pass me with a slice, which is not real easy.
Then 6-2 I went for the big second, because that's my best shot. Maybe somebody would say it's crazy, but if I don't go with my serve what I'm gonna go for? (laughter.)
We saw what happened with the forehand. I played dropshot or so. I just felt like it's my best shot. I should go for it. I missed it, but I had 6-2 advantage. It's too big. And 6-5, I just close it with a good serve.
Q. In the second set tiebreak, do you think that ninth game of that set was really the crucial game when you saved those break points?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, there were many crucial moments. Let's not forget the first game of the match. I was Love-40 up. I had a chance to really, you know, step up and then, you know, keep control of the whole match.
I was not able to break him. But, you know, that -- there were many crucial points. But, of course, in a match like this that finished without breaks, any break would be, you know, probably the most important thing in a match.
So the fact that I saved all those break points, of course, brings the fact that those were absolutely very, very important points also, because I was feeling a little bit tired in the end of the second set.
I have to be honest. 7-6 in the third against Rafa yesterday took a lot out of me, and I was happy to be able to finish in two today.
Q. How much confidence did you get from this tournament and from that third set against Rafa? How did that confidence help you relax in the tiebreakers today against Andy?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, you know, this morning, of course you're a little bit nervous before every match, but especially before the finals.
I was telling to myself, if I win or lose, this is not gonna change my life. Yes, it would be nice to win, but if I lose, it's not gonna be end of the world.
It's not like my career is gonna be good or bad because of this match. I was trying to think about those things.
That relaxed me a little bit, you know, especially after not breaking him in the first game. That also relax me a little bit, because I think if I had a break -- if I was a break up early in the match, that would put pressure on me to close it out.
This kind of kept the pressure on him, I felt like, throughout the match.
So it was really a mind game, you know. When you have two big serves, not a lot of rallies happening, it's very mental match actually. I was, I think, fortunate enough to be more relaxed by the end of the match.
Q. You speak with a lot of respect for Andy Roddick; you call Roger Federer your friend. In the past in tennis, relationships between players have often been much more fractious. We hear Nadal speak of Federer and Federer speak well of his fellow players. What do you attribute the change in atmosphere to?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I think there's huge respect between us. I mean, I don't know what was happening before and why the guys were not respectful to each other, or if that's actually true. Because I'm not sure.
Of course, you know, I was really close to Goran, so he was very respectful for some guys, but not for all of them.
But the fact is that I think Roger himself brings a lot, you know, of that to all of us. I mean, he kind of -- the fact that he won the Stefan Edberg Award for so many years that's been voted by the players as the most fair player on tour, being No. 1, kind of guys, young guys how to behave in the locker room, on court, you know, in the press room.
He's the leader. Obviously he's our leader. I think, you know, because we have him as a leader we all try to respect each other. I think Rafa and him showed a lot how, you know, two champions should, you know, respect each other.
I just respect everybody out there. I think, you know, whoever is there is there for a reason, and everybody's different. We all know that. But doesn't mean that you shouldn't like somebody or shouldn't respect that.
I think it's great actually to have different personalities like Roger, Rafa, Novak, and Andy, all four of them -- even Andy Murray; he's different. Everybody's different.
I mean, for myself, I can only talk for myself. My life learned me I should respect everybody because everybody's different. That's the way it is at the moment.
I don't know if next generation is gonna be like that, but I think we should be proud of what we have in the locker room at the moment.
Q. You're sort of talking in a big perspective here, and you've played season after season, tournament after tournament. For playing the sport, traveling the world all these years, what do you think is the prime thing you've learned from this sport?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, that's tough, tough question. I mean, it's -- I mean, this is actually what I was talking earlier. I think respect, you know, for everybody, for -- you know, for the people who are around and all the people that this sport, it's giving life to.
I mean, I think not only tennis players, but all the coaches, all the physios, all the journalists, all people who are around the sport to see every tournament, you know, still running. I mean, not many tournament disappearing.
It means our sport is really healthy. Even in these financial difficulties we see tournaments keep going on and trying to be better every time, and the players the same way.
I think tennis in general really never felt this kind of problems, this crisis in last 2008, 2009, and also in 2010.
So that shows us our sport is really healthy. Again, come back to respect. I think it's great how players respect the tournaments and tournaments respect the players.
That wasn't really the case in the past. We had fights -- well, fights, discussions in the ATP, you know, between tournaments and the players. You know, seeing Rafa or Roger and Novak being on the council, you know, trying to understand the game from inside, it gives a lot, again, to show also the young ones that you can't just go out there and play tennis and think that you should not give anything to anybody.
All this picture, I'm really proud of our sport and the way it is, because, you know, it's just perfect. I mean, it's just healthy. It's great. I mean, now we can talk about it for long, long time.
But I'm really proud that we have a Hawk-Eye. We are always trying to make this sport as fair as possible. I hope that we gonna continue like this.
Q. Andy made mention of this. Did you ever consider retiring?
IVAN LJUBICIC: I never considered retiring, no. But I had difficult times. I had difficult times in 2007. I keep saying it. Last year I lost five first rounds in a row in this period of the year. I came here with five losses in a row.
I played Nishikori in the first round I remember on center court. Night session, and it was really cold. I won 6-3, 6-3, and I was really happy, as happy as maybe today. I finally won a match. I felt like, Okay it's a turning point (laughter.)
So there were some difficult times. I had one interview in Dubai in fact when I lost for the fifth time first round. I say that, you know, if things are not improving that I will have to consider doing something else.
And that probably, you know, those words came to the locker room and probably, you know, players talked about it, sure.
But I know -- I mean, if I was near retiring? No. But, you know, I had my problems, like everybody else.
Q. How will you plan to celebrate this victory, and how will that be different from your birthday celebration?
IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, you know, just with people who are close to me, family, coach, physio, and the friends here in Indian Wells.
You know, packing bags and getting ready for the next one. But, you know, fortunately we have now more time, four days, between here and Miami.
So I can relax a little bit and, you know, regenerate, get some energy back. You know, the next tournament, it's right around the corner, so try to get ready.
Q. With your prize money, are you gonna buy something special for your son?
IVAN LJUBICIC: You cannot believe how many toys he has. (laughter.)
We are long, long away from home, so, you know, whatever we buy him, we have to carry it. So we'll try to -- you know, he needs to be happy with what he has. He has a lot of toys, believe me.
Q. When you were practicing with Roger before the start of this tournament, did you even think, dream about the prospect of sitting here right now?
IVAN LJUBICIC: No, I really wasn't. I was hoping -- of course I saw the draw and I saw Novak Djokovic in fourth round. We all know I lost five times in a row against him.
My goal was, Okay, let's try to get there, and then we'll see what's gonna happen. That was my first goal. After I beat Novak, you know, I had Juan Monaco. I know how difficult he can be.
You know, at that stage you really have difficult opponents that you can't think, oh, God, maybe I can win it. You really have to go match by match. Every match, every morning when I was waking up, I had to believe that I can win the next one I play.
And then so when you come this morning, you know, in front of, you know, the final, you think you can win it. But I was not thinking about winning the title before the tournament started. I mean, of course not.
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