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November 17, 2005

Ivan Ljubicic


THE MODERATOR: Questions in English and Chinese.

Q. Was that the kind of tennis equivalent of hitting a brick wall tonight? Did you feel you ran out of gas completely?

IVAN LJUBICIC: I think it's very, very easy to make this press conference. I think everybody saw happened on the court today. I think I gave more than I had against Roger. I mean, there's really not much I can say. I couldn't do much really. He was playing unbelievable. I was serving 220. The balls were going back like I was serving 120. Really there's nothing to feel ashamed of. I think now going back and think even if I won the match yesterday, I would need one set today, so it would probably feel even more frustrating. You know, I'm not saying that it's better that I lost the one yesterday. But, you know, I think it's fantastic just finish up the year. It's just disappointing, you know, to run out of gas just couple meters to the finish line.

Q. At least you can now look ahead to the Davis Cup final. How exciting is that going to be for you personally and also for the nation of Croatia?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I think it's a historic opportunity for us. I'm not going to say that maybe it's the only chance that we going to have, but it's definitely one of the most important this year. I finished the year in top 10 for the first time. I made the Masters Cup. I won a match in the Masters Cup. Now I have Davis Cup final. I hope I can finish this year positively, which means winning the Davis Cup. That's just fantastic. I think to have this opportunity now to finish the year like this, to have another chance even if you are almost in the end of November.

Q. Do you think David on a day like this has one of the best returns in the world? Can you speak a bit about his game, please.

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I think this court really helped his game, you know. This is pretty much similar court to Basel where he plays his best tennis, and the ball doesn't really go fast off the court. He definitely is good returner, there's no question about that. He's not only good returner but also good hitter from the baseline. We all know that he's not good in the important moments when it's something about win. So I was just hoping to get maybe the match relatively equal. He's fantastic player, but he never won anything. I knew if I can get to the situation where it's going to be one or two points, I know that I'm going to have a chance. But unfortunately I was not even close.

Q. When you set out at the start of this year, what were your ambitions?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I finished last year at 21, so the first step was to reach top 20. Obviously, wasn't unbelievable goal. But, you know, still it's nice goal. Once I get that, and starting the year the way I started with four finals out of first five tournaments, obviously I set up other goals. At that moment in March, I was I think No. 4 or 5 in the race. Obviously, the Masters Cup was the main goal, and I achieved it. I mean, to get in top 10 and to win two titles, to play two Masters Series final and to come to the Masters Cup winning one match, and one Davis Cup final to go, I think is just fantastic year. I'm not going to compare to anyone else, but I think my year was one of best five players. It's not everything about the ranking, because Davis Cup you don't get points. But I think it was brilliant year, absolutely. I would not complain if I can repeat it.

Q. Are your Davis Cup wins this year, personally speaking, are they as special to you as your wins on tour?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I think Davis Cup, obviously they were fantastic wins, all of them. But the way I look now, if you lose in the finals, then it's going to be really easy to forget them. I just hope that we can win this title and I can enjoy the whole year because now looking back, you know, as I said, it's been fantastic year, I'm going to finish the year in top 10. Hopefully I can win the Davis Cup so I can say that the year was just fantastic. I mean, I'm not going to escape and say it doesn't matter if I win or not. I think it's really important to win this one and finish the year in positive way. Well, I mean, for our country, only four million, if you just compare to this city here, you can imagine how small we are. It's just fantastic achievement. I hope, again, that -- I mean, I need to first recover energies, I need to get ready. I hope Mario is doing the same thing and we can get ready and try to win it.

Q. The hypothetical situation: If you beat Hrbaty in the fourth rubber to win the Cup for Croatia, does Goran play the fifth?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I don't care. I don't care (laughter). If we win, I don't care who's going to play. Well, it's going to be real difficult to set up the match if it's over. I really don't know. I mean, honestly I really don't care. As I said, you know, people are talking about me breaking McEnroe record, winning 12 matches in one year in Davis Cup, nobody except him did it. I said when we played against Russia that I don't really care about that record. I just win to win this Davis Cup. Even if Mario wins two singles and I lose both and we win doubles, that's enough. The year has been really long. It's not about making records or not. I think this Davis Cup totally deserve to us. We played first round, Slovakia played all matches at home, so I think we really deserve. We are better players. But, unfortunately, we are going there, so it's not going to be easy, that's for sure. But I think I can recover physically and try to win it.

Q. Do you worry that you might not have enough time to take a rest and prepare for the next season, especially you have a lot of points to defend in the first two months of the next season?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, yes, I do worry really. I'm really concerned about this little time that I usually always had five to six weeks of preparation between two seasons. Now I'm going to have two to three. So it's not fantastic. But there is a reason for that: it's because I played great this year. So that's positive. But about the points that I need to defend, I mean, I need so many points now in the end of the year, so I don't really have to worry about the points because I think, even if I don't do anything till March, I'm going to be 10, 11, somewhere there. It's not about the points really. If you are top 10 player, you are expecting good results, and you want to do really well every tournament. It's not about the points really. In the end of the year, I hope I'm going to fight for the Masters Cup. How many points you make the year before, it's not a big issue.

Q. It seems you have finished your Masters Cup streak. May I ask, are you satisfied to the rewards of the three matches? How do you spend them?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, yes, I'm satisfied. I mean, I won a match, first one, I played really good. Played fantastic match against Roger. Unfortunately, I was just short. Today I couldn't do anything. Looking back, maybe couple points against Roger that could went the other way. But generally I'm really satisfied. My main goal was to get here. I think it's just nice, you know, to win a match. Unfortunately, I think it would be much, much better if the Masters Cup was full, like with all the players, because the feeling, it would be much, much sweeter I think. I mean, I'm not going to go from Shanghai disappointed, that's for sure.

Q. With the serve of you've got, the game you've got, why do you not feel confident about your game on grass?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I don't know really. I mean -- well, I don't know (smiling). What can I tell you? I mean, I played with some rough players there. I lost twice to Wayne Ferreira. I lost to Mirnyi. I lost to Schuttler. I lost to Melzer. Thomas Johansson in Halle once. I mean, all those guys, you can lose. I never really felt comfortable on grass, except the first year when I was junior. I played the final of Wimbledon. But after that really nothing because for me it's hard. I don't know if the grass become slower. But for some of the exhibitions I'm playing before Wimbledon, the people there are saying that Wimbledon used to be like this, and it's really quick, so I win all these exhibitions (smiling). But then you come to Wimbledon, then it feels really slow. I mean, I go at the net. They passing me. I stay back, I can't do anything. It just feels bad. You know, I hope maybe next year it's going to be different. If you win one, two matches, you get a good draw. In Wimbledon, it's really important the draw. If you win a couple matches, then maybe it opens up. You get confidence and you do well. I don't know. It's real difficult for me to talk about it.

Q. I think the audience in Shanghai will miss you. You were the person that brought the No. 1 player into a tiebreaker. Today you suffered early breaks in both sets. Tell us what happened. Big difference in the match against Federer.

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, of course, it's a big difference. It's just that two days ago I was almost ready. I was 90, 95% fit physically. I mean, you know, full of energy. Today I was not even close to 50. That's I think the simple explanation. I said to my wife after the match against Roger, I said, "I prefer to play another one against Roger than to play David because I know that it's going to be extremely difficult to play against David because he has perfect game for this kind of court and these balls and these conditions." I unfortunately proved that I was right.

Q. The day before last night you had a tough game with Roger. I think you felt tired. Is that one of the reasons for you to lose the game tonight? What do you want to say to fans always supporting you?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, it's simple answering that. It's yes. I mean, I'm not going to say that only because of the match against Roger. I think if you look back how many matches I played in last five, six weeks, you going to find out easily the reason why I'm tired and why I couldn't do better today. Obviously, it's fantastic feeling to walk off the court knowing that you are out of the tournament, that the people are not going to see you any more, and to get that kind of standing ovation. It's a beautiful feeling really. I feel proud to be here. I feel proud that the people really appreciate the way I play, the way I act on the court. I can only say that I hope I'm going to come back, not only for the Masters Cup, but talking about Asia. Maybe after the US Open I really planning because I like conditions here. I like the people here in China. Not only in China, but in Asia. You know, it's really, I have to say, nice. Once you know that you are out, you really feel bad. Then you walk off the court, people are clapping and cheering for you, it's really a fantastic feeling.

End of FastScripts….

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