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May 5, 2005

Ivan Ljubicic

ROME, ITALY, A. AGASSI/I. Ljubicic 7-6, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Ivan.

Q. What makes him difficult?

IVAN LJUBICIC: What makes him difficult? Well, today he was very accurate. He hit a lot of lines and served well. I think this racquet, it's helping him a lot, because obviously his pace is not as it was five years ago. But this racquet I think is going to help him a lot, especially if he's confident; he can swing full power, which he's doing right now. As I said, he was extremely accurate today. He played well. I mean, I had chances maybe in the first and chance in the second but, I mean, on clay it's always like that. Very rarely you're going to lose easy or win easy. But he really -- I mean, I have to say he played really good match.

Q. When was the first time you ever saw him?

IVAN LJUBICIC: First time I ever saw him, tough to say. Probably '99 - well, no, no, no. '96. '96 Wimbledon, I played Juniors. That was the first time I saw these guys. Actually, I played French Open Juniors, but French Open, the locker rooms are, I mean -- the Juniors are in one locker room and separate. In Wimbledon we all stay together. So that's the first time I had a chance to meet all these guys.

Q. Are you amazed that he's still doing this?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, yeah. I mean, if you think that 20 years ago he was around, it's incredible. It is incredible. But I think he's -- what I feel, that he is playing with less pressure now than he did before. I mean, I don't know, but I can assume that, you know, before, he was going on the court, he was always the favorite one, he always had to win matches. But now I think he feels probably like he's underdog every time, even if we all think -- we all know that he is not. But the feeling on court is that he really feels he is underdog, he's really thinking small, you know. He's hungry still to win every match. That's why he's enjoying playing right now, I think.

Q. What was the big difference in the way the ball was coming off his racquet today than against him in Los Angeles?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, conditions were completely different, obviously. But, as I said before, he was extremely accurate today. I mean, he was serving - I don't know percentage of first serve - but it was amazing, and hitting the line all the times with the serve. Was really difficult to put something decent back, to start to rally it even. I was always defensive when he was serving. I couldn't do much really on his first serve. And even the strokes, I mean, he was using lot of lines today. In Carson he was just missing by this much. That's, I think, the difference. Obviously, with my serve, it's much easier to serve on hard court instead of like on clay. Today I served well first two games and then I lost my serve little bit probably for entire match. It's really difficult actually to serve well for a big guy when it's windy like this. For him it's probably, you know, short swing, just smack it in. For me, I need a lot of rhythm. I need a lot of -- the motion is much bigger, so it's more difficult to serve.

Q. How do you look back on that weekend months ago?

IVAN LJUBICIC: No, it's great. It's still fantastic memory, you know. But I still feel like if we lose against Romania in quarters, then it's lost. I mean, it's not like we can look back and say, "We did great." Now, of course, because we didn't play any more matches after that, we still think that it's fantastic effort. But we need to go on. If we beat Romania and then if we go all the way to the final, which I think we can because we play at home all the matches until the final, then we can say it was fantastic and fabulous year, including that match in LA.

Q. Has anything come of it from you since then? Has there been any reaction back home?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I haven't been back home since, really, so I don't know. But in two weeks' time I'm going to play challenger in Zagreb, so I think I'm gonna hear a lot of things, I mean, also the feelings from journalists and the crowd. I'm expecting really a lot of people coming to watch me and all the Croatian guys. Tennis in Croatia is really big. I mean, again, if we do well in Davis Cup this year, which I think we have a chance, it's going to be even bigger.

End of FastScripts….

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