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April 15, 2012

Ivan Ljubicic


I. DODIG/I. Ljubicic
6‑0, 6‑3

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Inevitably it's a very emotional day for you.  Difficult to encapsulate 15 years in one press conference.  How do you feel at the end of quite an astonishing career?
IVAN LJUBICIC:  I mean, was tough day for me, I mean, both on the court and off the court.  I had my mind everywhere else except on the tennis court.  Second set was a little better.  But obviously I'm completely out of shape.  I don't even think it makes any sense to talk about the match today.
I have to say that I felt like it could end up emotionally, but I didn't expect it this big emotions really.  Obviously, it's end of something beautiful for me.  You say 15, but I would say 20 years, and now it's time to do something else.
But I didn't expect to struggle this match, honestly.

Q.  Did you tell yourself not to cry?
IVAN LJUBICIC:  I tried all the tricks, but none of them worked (smiling).  It wasn't easy.  It wasn't easy.

Q.  You said it's time to try something else.  What will you do?
IVAN LJUBICIC:  I said it's time 'to do' something else.
I have no idea.  I'm going to take some time off.  A lot of people already came to me and talked to me about ideas and projects.  I'm sure you know what I mean.
But I will see.  I will just take some time.  I would love to help this sport to be even better in some way.  We'll see what that is.
But I'm sure it's going to be something with tennis.

Q.¬† There are worse places to finish than center court at Monte‑Carlo.¬† Not a bad venue, even for a good‑bye.
IVAN LJUBICIC:  No, it's beautiful.  But I have to say beginning of the second set maybe it wasn't a good idea.  It's difficult when you are not in shape, when you're out of shape, to play on clay, especially against a guy who is giving you every single ball back.  It was difficult.
I would probably think it would be maybe easier on hard.  You can just serve it out, kind of be more competitive.
But in the end of the day, it doesn't really matter.  I don't think this match is going to mean anything.  It's the whole career that matters.
I think this club, this tournament deserves, I mean, for me it's a special place.  1999, I think the big tennis started for me here, qualifying, beating Medvedev and Kafelnikov.  In a way to wrap it up and finish off here, where I live, in the end of the day where I will stay even after my career, I think it was right move and right place to do that.

Q.  How different is tennis now to when you started?
IVAN LJUBICIC:¬† It's very different.¬† It's definitely more physical.¬† Guys are moving way better.¬† A lot of guys, most of the guys, have no weaknesses.¬† It's different.¬† I remember coming up late '90s.¬† Obviously back then we even had bonus points for beating top guys.¬† I always wanted to play better‑ranked guys because of the bonus points.
Basically every one of them had a weak point, either his forehand or backhand, something, so you could kind of focus on doing something specific in order to win matches even against top guys.
But now today, I mean, people are asking me, So what do you need to do to beat Djokovic?  What do you need to do to beat Murray?
There is no answer really to that question.  That gives you a little bit an idea how the guys are complete players and how professional they are about themselves.  So everybody is physically ready.  Everybody is technically perfect.  It's just a matter of I guess mental that makes the difference in the end of the day.

Q.  I'm sure there are many highlights in your career.  Would the Davis Cup win be ranked at the top?
IVAN LJUBICIC:  I think there's four things which I'm most proud of, which is Olympic medal in Athens, Davis Cup in 2005 of course, No.3 ranking, and Indian Wells title.  Those four things I'm the most proud of.  But also the fact that I played two finals in a row, which kind of for me it's special because I always thought that once to break the top 10, it can happen.  But to break it up, it's something special.  I felt also very proud of that.
And, of course, representation off the court, it's something that really made me proud, as well.  Really to feel also now walking into the locker room, all the guys standing and clapping, it's something beautiful to see how guys respected me and the way I represented them for many, many years.

Q.  The best win you've had?
IVAN LJUBICIC:  It's difficult to talk about one match now because I played like 725 (laughter).  But there were many.
I don't know.¬† I felt like my best tennis maybe was end of 2005, beginning the 2006, to start maybe with the final in Madrid against Rafael Nadal.¬† I lost 7‑6 in the fifth but I felt my tennis was right at the top at the time.¬† In beginning of 2006, when I felt like I had the only chance to win a slam in Australian Open, and Indian Wells 2010.
But more than anything else I guess my serve was the best ever there.  I was really serving unbelievable.  Also the victory against Djokovic and Nadal were special.

Q.  You talk about the players and the representation you had for them.  Of course, currently there's a situation where no one knows what is going to happen with prize money; a little bit of rancor in the sport.  If you could give a bit of advice to the players currently, what might that be to overcome the hurdles in the sport?
IVAN LJUBICIC:  Honestly, I don't think there's like big hurdles there.  There's always going to be issues.  With the structures that we have, the issues going to be there every day.  The thing is how you get things done, what's the best way.
I always thought that talking and discussing and trying to find the solution with the tournaments ‑ ATP and the Grand Slams and the ITF ‑ is the best way to do things.¬† That's what I said also after Australian Open this year when the 'strike' word was mentioned.¬† I felt it was totally stupid to even talk about it.
For me, I was really happy and proud to see that the Grand Slams sat and talked to the guys and realized that there is an issue, there is a talks.  That's only, again, with the slams.  The ATP has own issues.  As I said, there are always going to be issues.  It's difficult now to talk about certain topics.
I am not a big fan of a short season, but I'm a big fan of cutting down the mandatory tournaments and trying to give more freedom to the players to choose what to play.

Q.  What are you going to miss most about this and what are you going to miss least about this?
IVAN LJUBICIC:  The most, the win, the victory.  When you win a match, that feeling, you cannot substitute with anything.  I mean, all the former players, Thomas Johansson, my close friends, all the players who played the sport and stop, they say that's something you're never going to get back no matter what you do.  I am sure that is what is going to be missing.
What I'm not going to miss is packing twice a week and living the life with the bag.  I'm definitely going to try to enjoy less traveling and time with my family.  That's the thing that I'm most looking forward to.

Q.  What is the biggest lesson you can say to your children you received from tennis?
IVAN LJUBICIC:  We played some games.  I played some games with my son.  He tried once, twice.  He said, No, I cannot do that.  I said, No, you keep trying until you succeed.  I told him that I realized that is something I would try to teach him.
Tennis is about trying, trying, trying.  You know, all of us, I mean, I had almost 300 losses in the career.  Everybody had tons of losses.  Even the best players in the world had losses, 200 losses.  But in the end it's how much you won.
Until you try, until you compete, of course you have to lose, but that's the only way to win something.  It's about trying and not succeeding and then eventually winning things.

Q.  There are two sorts of coaches in tennis:  maybe the coach you have for all your life, then the coach you change to find something new.  What about Piatti?
IVAN LJUBICIC:  Piatti is the guy I worked with all my life.  I always felt for me was always important to have somebody next to me who knows me best.  There were the moments where I wanted to hear second opinion.  I think every player get to that.  But instead of firing the coach, we thought of, Why not just adding another thought?
We worked with Niki Pilic for some time, we worked Wojtek Fibak, as well, when I thought I needed to hear second voice.
I never felt there was a reason to change the coach.  I always felt it's very important to have somebody next to me who knows me sometimes even better than me knowing myself.  But, yes, I mean, I also understand the guys who wants to hear different things and work with different coaches.
I think coaching today is different than what it was 10 or 15 years ago.  It's more mental now, talking about experience, motivating players, rather than talking about forehands, grips, swings and stuff.  It's less technical.

Q.  You mentioned the response of the players.  What sort of things have they said to you over the last few months as you've been winding down?
IVAN LJUBICIC:  Well, when I decide in Dubai, I didn't go anywhere, so they had no chance to see me.  But I got a lot of nice messages really.  It's nice to see that they respected the way I competed on the court, I guess kind of the way I did it.
I competed in a way that, Let's go out there and try to see who is better player, rather than trying to get in their head.¬† I always kept my emotions‑‑ always trying to keep my emotions inside, because I always felt it was a loss of energy.¬† Always pay respect to the opponent because he's in the same situation, kind of.¬† That was my way of doing things.
But I also liked to see different personalities out there.  I think that's what we need in tennis.  I always said Federer and Nadal are the best thing that ever happen to tennis, to have such a great champions, such different personalities and images, that it's the best thing that ever happen to us.

Q.  Will you walk back home?
IVAN LJUBICIC:  Will I walk back home?  No, because I have this big presents I have to carry, otherwise I would consider it (smiling).

Q.  Do you think you reached your potential?
IVAN LJUBICIC:¬† Absolutely, absolutely.¬† I think I did a lot more than I personally expected ‑¬† I guess even the people around me didn't expect for me to reach.¬† But I'm happy that I did.¬† I absolutely have no regrets.

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