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November 13, 2005

Ivan Ljubicic


THE MODERATOR: Questions in English and Chinese.

Q. Obviously going into this tournament in the form that you have been in, you must be feeling really confident now, regardless of the fact you're in Roger's group.

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, you know, coming here and after Andy pulled out and Lleyton pulled out, obviously I had a feeling I'm definitely -- I mean, I deserve to be in a semifinal. But then after the group came out, I mean, it's really tough group. I mean, obviously, and playing first match against Coria, it's a lot of pressure because it's absolutely must-win situation. But, you know, I played that situation kind of in last four weeks. I had to win every single match to have a chance to qualify for the Masters Cup. I did. So it was kind of comfortable because I'm used to these kind of situations. I think I'm play great match really. Especially in the first set, everything went my way.

Q. And physically how do you feel? In Paris, you were very tired, your leg was hurting. How do you feel now?

IVAN LJUBICIC: The leg was fine. I mean, the semifinal in Paris, my leg was really hurting. And the final was already better. So leg is fine really. But, yes, I mean, I am tired. There's no secret. But that's why it's really important to keep the matches short. Now we have day off. It's going to be not before 7 on Tuesday, so it's a lot of time to recover. I think it's not going to be issue I think, the physique.

Q. Guillermo just described the court as like playing on ice.

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, it's not that fast, I mean.

Q. Is that almost like a sign of the times in the sense that fast courts have been slowed down so now playing on a medium surface almost feels like playing on a fast court?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I guess so because this is really not fast court. I mean, I can accept that the court doesn't suit his game, absolutely, because it's terrible for his game because the topspin doesn't go up anything. I mean, it's really difficult to move on the court because it's really sticky, but it's not fast. I mean, that's not the right word. It doesn't suit his game, absolutely. I confirm that. But I don't think it's fast really. If you want to see fast court, come to Croatia (smiling).

Q. Your next one is against Roger on Tuesday night. You had two great finals with him earlier this year.


Q. Three. How do you look forward to this one?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I don't think it's going to be key match of the group, so I can play relaxed really. I don't think it's an advantage for me that I played so many matches against him because he's going to be really careful how to face this match because he knows that I can give him some trouble. So obviously I have a feeling it's going to depend on him. If he plays his best tennis, it's not much I can do or anyone else. But I'm confident. I'm playing well. I think I can give him some headaches, so I'm going to try that on Tuesday.

Q. One more about the surface. Some of the players are complaining about the surface. You played in Paris. It is the same surface. You played in Lyon two years ago, it is the same surface. This year, too. Is it very different from the one in France or is it the same?

IVAN LJUBICIC: No, it's exactly the same like one in Paris. It's absolutely exactly the same. I mean, the problem of the surface is that it's really different from other courts, not these that you just mentioned, which is the same. The surface is really sticky so you can't move. It's really difficult to move on the court. And the ball doesn't bounce, doesn't have natural bounce. So it is strange. I mean, we can complain also on grass, I mean, because it's so strange surface we play just couple weeks and that, and it's not natural. I mean, we are not really feeling confident on the court. But I think on this surface, we are playing for a really long time. I remember even the GreenSet Trophy before was like this. We play our Davis Cup matches on this. And before we had a lot of tournaments on these courts. Maybe it just doesn't suit the guys who are here, which, again, I can confirm. Because if you try to rally and hit the ball back, you're not going to be successful. So I think it suits maybe three or four guys here, and we are eight. We going to have a lot of complaining on the court I think throughout the week.

Q. Given that it's a surface for the end-of-year tournament where it's supposed to be as fair as possible to everybody, do you think perhaps it's the wrong choice of surface or it could be improved on?

IVAN LJUBICIC: I mean, if I'm tournament director, I would think about it. But I don't know. I mean, if they put this surface, there is a reason for that. I never played in a Masters Cup before so I cannot compare. But, I mean, this is what we get. It's the end of the season. I think it's absolutely fair to have a Masters Cup indoors because all Grand Slams are outdoors. If you advantage one player, you disadvantaging others. You are going to have always someone who is complaining.

Q. A question about your next match with Federer. We saw Nalbandian did a good job in the second set. Are you willing to copy that second set, Nalbandian's strategy, to try to put more pressure on Federer's backhand or his injured foot?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I cannot play like Nalbandian. We are absolutely different players. You know, strategy, something happened, and then after that Roger find a way to beat him. He's the best player in the world, and there is a reason for that, because he adapt to the opponent perfectly. I always said, there is no perfect game for Roger. You know, there's no tactic to beat Roger. You just have to do the right thing at the right moment, which nobody knows what is it. So it's really complicated situation. Obviously, he lost just three matches this year, and two of those he had a match point. So it is extremely difficult to beat him. But what I'm thinking how to play, it's obvious I have to serve well. I have to serve unbelievable. And I have to try to put the pressure on his serve. You know, I don't think he has injured foot or not injured foot. I saw him moving pretty well on the court today. I mean, I don't know. I'm going to tell you what, if I have breakpoint what I'm going to do, I don't know. It's really up to the moment situation because you have -- well, I know what I'm not going to do, and that is playing really soft in the middle of the court because he's going to kill you. You have to be aggressive, I think. But then again, if the situation shows me that I have to do something different, I'm going to try it. I mean, he's going to try to adapt to my game, I'm going to try to adapt to his game. It's going to be more like chess game, I think.

Q. Yesterday in the round table interview, you said you belong to Shanghai, Masters Cup. After this easy win, are you more confident that maybe you can do something really big this time?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, the goal is to qualify for the semifinals. That's obviously my goal. I have two more matches to go. Perhaps if I win one, I can go through even if it's not mathematically. But I won the match that I had to, and that's good feeling, that now I'm here, I won a match, so it's really nice. I confirmed that I belong here. Well, the goal is to win next match, obviously. It's Roger Federer, it's the best player in the world, maybe ever, so it's not going to be easy for sure. I think the key match of the group is going to be me against Nalbandian on Thursday. Who wins that goes in the semifinal. That's the feeling at the moment. But I'm going to give a try on Tuesday, that's for sure. We'll see what happens. I'm playing good. I'm feeling confident. Physically, I'm a little tired, but I hope I can recover until Tuesday.

Q. When you started, what was your goal? Did you see yourself in the top 10?

IVAN LJUBICIC: In the beginning of the season?

Q. Yes.

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, yes, because I started real good. I played four finals out of the first six tournaments. I felt like I really belonged there. It was a long way. You have to keep winning to reach that goal. But especially the way I played in the end of the season, I think I really deserved this place.

Q. During your career you will have played matches in front of two men and a dog and probably on courts with holes in them, things like that. Now that you're here at this level, with your own personal locker room, are you now officially a superstar, do you think? It must feel strange.

IVAN LJUBICIC: You really get used to these conditions really quickly (laughter). But it is special, really. This is obviously the best tournament in the world. The way organizer treats you, it's just amazing. But I know how it was before. I'm never going to forget it. It makes it even sweeter when you start from almost zero and to reach this high, it's great. I have to say that I really, really feel proud of myself, what I did, and the way I did. I'm not going to forget that. I'm not going to just feel proud; I'm going to try to make it even bigger. Every day I step on the court because I have at least two more matches to go here, and I have Davis Cup final. A lot of tennis still, even if we are in the end of November.

Q. Do you feel that your height and your physique, strength, put you in a good position on that court? You certainly seemed to dwarf Coria this afternoon.

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I try to. My game had to be really physical, I think, I mean, in the sense of hitting hard. If you hit soft against Coria, you're not going to win any points. So, yes, I tried to step up and to hit hard. I mean, he is fast, but he's not faster than the ball. That I tried to prove.

Q. Why do you think so many players from your country serve so well?

IVAN LJUBICIC: I mean, I can tell you why I did well: because I tried. For me it's really difficult to talk about the others. But the facts are here. We are really a sporty country I think, not only in tennis but every other sport. I always tried really hard. I always gave a hundred percent on the court, on the practice court, in the gym, or anywhere else. I tried to invest even the money in my team and in myself, and it paid off. I think that's the only way I could succeed. It really feels nice. I mean, again, I cannot tell what's with the others. But I'm sure we are not -- Mario, Ivo and myself, we are not the last Croatians who are playing well. I think other young players are coming up. It's just tradition, I guess.

End of FastScripts….

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