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March 5, 2005

Ivan Ljubicic

CARSON, CALIFORNIA, CROATIA vs. USA I. LJUBICIC/A. Roddick 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-7, 6-2

TIM CURRY: With this win, Croatia advances to the quarterfinals for the third time in its Davis Cup history. We'll open up the floor for questions in English first.

Q. Are you aware you can make a pretty good living by renting yourself out to whoever is playing the US in Davis Cup?

IVAN LJUBICIC: I realize that it's great effort. I mean, I have no words, really. I mean, I played great match. Even in the first set that I lost, in the end I thought I was always the one who was playing better and I felt confident that winning that one, even if I lost the first, then the second obviously, played a good second. And third, I was break up. I play bad game there, great tiebreak. In the fourth set, even when I was 6-3 down in the breaker, I believed I could win that set, and almost I did it. But Andy played some great shots. In the fifth, obviously I started with the break. He played really not, not great game, first game even of the fifth. Once you break up, it's obviously much easier because you know there is no tiebreak in the fifth. So if he wants to win, he needs to break me twice. And after serving Love-40, obviously everything was much easier.

Q. How much longer could you have gone on?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I felt much -- I had actually cramps against Andre in the end of the second set, and I felt much more tired there than today. Today I felt really good. I could go forever I had the feeling. It's just that my knee was bothering me in the beginning of the fifth, but physically I felt like muscles and stuff was pretty good.

Q. So you weren't cramping at all?

IVAN LJUBICIC: No, no, no, not at all.

Q. How does this compare to 2003?

IVAN LJUBICIC: I mean, it's big difference. Huge difference. I mean, there we played at home. For all respect, but was James Blake and Mardy Fish. Has nothing to compare with Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Bryan brothers in LA. I mean, it is incredible.

Q. If you weren't cramping, why did you ask for the trainer?

IVAN LJUBICIC: I never called trainer for cramping. I think that's stupid rule and I never use it.

Q. What was the massage for?

IVAN LJUBICIC: My knee. My knee hurt, so I felt like probably the muscles were tight. If I loosen up the muscles, then the knee would be better. I mean, I know there is not actually I could do anything with it. But just maybe, you know, if you relax a little bit the muscles, then the knee could stretch out a little. But it didn't help actually.

Q. It was the right knee?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Right knee, yeah.

Q. Could you have a couple years ago, even as well as you played, have won three matches against this caliber of competition then? The way you were playing two years ago, could you have done what you did this weekend? Have you made that much improvement?

IVAN LJUBICIC: I mean, I'm much better player now than I was two years ago, obviously. This year I'm playing great tennis and I'm beating all these guys because I play good tennis. I won I don't know how many matches this year, and there is a reason for that. Obviously, I lost three times to Roger and once to Joachim Johansson, and not many others. Obviously, beating all other guys, including Agassi and Roddick this weekend, it's a great, great result. And I think that shows me again and all this last month that I really belong to the top of tennis right now.

Q. Andy was saying one reason he thought you were able to return his serve was just confidence.

IVAN LJUBICIC: Yes, no, but it's not confidence. I think even in Indianapolis last time we played, I didn't have much difficulties returning his serve because in the past when we played, I had the problems with actually the speed of his serve, but it's not that accurate like some serves. I have much more difficulties to return the serve that it's really accurate instead of just power. Today he started, I mean, hitting 152, 149. I mean, I thought if he goes like this forever, I mean, it's not going to be easy. But then he slowed down, obviously. You cannot serve like that all match. But, I mean, it's not about a serve. In the end, we play two tiebreakers, and it's just some breaks. But obviously, yes, I understand that it is frustrating somebody is returning your serve all the time. I know how I feel against Roger. He does that to me (laughter).

Q. I think you resisted seven set points in this match. Can you recall ever having done that before?

IVAN LJUBICIC: I remember just month ago I play against Mario actually, my teammate, in Marseille. I saved 19 of 21 breakpoints. I think that was much, much bigger effort than this. Today, I mean, this period, I really play point by point. No matter what is the result, I always try to win the point playing my tennis. Not that the result doesn't affect my choice, doesn't affect my shot, I just go for it and go for whatever I think it's right to do in that moment.

Q. Could you talk about how this victory will be received back home, and what sort of reception will you get when you go home in a few weeks?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I mean, I imagine that it's going to be huge, obviously. Not only home, I think all around the world is going to be big news because to beat Andre, Bryans and Roddick in three days, I think it's great effort. I realize that. I really, when I came here, was thinking if I could just win one singles, just to keep up the momentum and just to keep the confidence in. But, I mean, I did all the way, so it is amazing.

Q. Are you playing in Indian Wells?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Yes, of course.

Q. What do you think you learned about yourself this week?

IVAN LJUBICIC: That I'm good player. I mean, no, really, not this weekend, but all this period. That if I play my tennis, I'm one of the best, and that's great feeling. And I don't think it's just this period. I feel really that I improved as a player, that not many guys out there can beat me.

Q. This match had so many turning points. In the fifth set, you had that one game where you were down Love-40, won five points in a row. Are you going to recall that as one of the major turning points in the match?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, obviously was very important stage of the match, that game and the game afterward. I broke him for the second time. I mean, in the match like this that it's four hours, there's so many points that you can say, "Well, this one is important." We can start, for example, break up in the third, and then if I hold the serve, you know, or in the fourth if I win the tiebreak, and the first game of the fifth. Obviously, it is advantage to serve first in the fifth. If you can hold the serve all the way, like for 6-All, 7-All, he's always game forward, so if I lose the serve, that does the match. So I realize he has slight advantage in the beginning of the fifth. But obviously I broke him straightaway, so he lost that advantage straightaway.

Q. How about your mental game? You flew in from the Middle East, you played three tough matches here. How hard was it for you to stay focused this weekend?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, it's easy. I mean, it's not really difficult. If you're confident, if you have three finals in last three weeks, it's really easy to play tennis. For me, as I said before, I feel now if I play my tennis, if I play my game, that I can -- not I can, that I'm going to beat everyone. Even Roger last two times I lost like tight matches, and I think he's the best player by far at this moment in the world. Just these two matches against him gave me huge confidence for this period of time.

Q. Physically were you feeling tired from all the matches and travel you've had recently?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I am tired, yeah. But that's my job. That's something I'm doing. It's not like I'm just going to lay down now and do nothing for five days. This is what I'm doing for all my life. It's not different if you win matches or not. Even if you lose, you practice day after. So it's something that we do every day.

Q. You beat Andy on a court that was tailored specifically for him.


Q. Do you take particular satisfaction in that? Is that particularly pleasing?

IVAN LJUBICIC: I mean, it is satisfaction to beat someone you lost five times in a row. And this court, I realize that it suits his game perfectly. But it suits also my game. We are pretty similar as players. It's tough match. It's nothing personally there.

Q. What do you plan on doing to celebrate? Are you going to take out the folks from San Pedro, the Croatian community?

IVAN LJUBICIC: I don't know. We didn't talk yet, because everybody's out. Rockets playing, so we didn't talk how we going to celebrate this one. But I have to say something, that after the match, Andre came in our locker room and he said that he was privileged to watch this match, and that enjoy these moments, said to us to enjoy this moment because it doesn't last forever. I really appreciate that from him and I think he's great person. And he showed that again, he's just incredible. Then Darren came and Dean, Andy's coach, and Doug, doctor of the team. I really appreciate that. That's phenomenal.

Q. What chances do you give Croatia to win the Davis Cup?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, definitely we going to be the favorite for the next one. We play at home against Romania. But then I don't even know if we win that who we going to play. But I think there's some teams. I do know that I think we play at home all matches now from now on. Obviously it's going to be big. But there is one team that I'm especially afraid of, it's Russia. It's not going to be easy with them on any surface. But obviously from now on it's going to be much easier.

Q. Did it surprise you that Andre came in?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I mean, it's not like I expected. I was surprised. I was surprised. But Andre is a person who can do that. But it is amazing that he did it, really.

End of FastScripts….

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