The public adoration of the 2001 Wimbledon champion remains just as strong as it ever has; a fact quite amazing considering the fact that prior to the exploits of Andy Murray on Wimbledon’s grass, it was Ivanisevic who ruined the great British dream of Tim Henman’s best ever chance of winning his most cherished title.
This has been a good autumn for the tall and charismatic left-hander. He got his hands on some ATP Champions Tour silverware by winning the event at the Belgian seaside resort of Knokke Heist; his beloved West Bromwich Albion are doing better than expected in the Premier League after memorably beating Manchester United at Old Trafford and his 16 year-old Croatian prodigy, Borna Coric who for much of the year views Northwood, Middlesex as his training base, won the US Open junior singles title and made his Davis Cup debut against no less an opponent than Andy Murray.
Yet let us remember that Goran can never be serious for too long and when recently asked how he would be remembered, he pondered on his answer for a moment or two. Then in that familiar deep voiced drawl revealed: “First for breaking racquets. Then being different, some people say crazy but I prefer different. Then having a big serve but hopefully the man who won Wimbledon and was only playing because he was given a wild card.”
More on that memorable day can be found elsewhere in this programme but let us remember that things were never quite straightforward for this player. By his own admission, Goran’s career was tougher than most because he long insisted on having six opponents with which to contend rather than just one; as well as the player on the other side of the net he felt he was taking on the umpire, the crowd, the ball boys, the court, and most crucially himself.
No player took the court with a more diverse variety of hairstyles and how many before or since have had to pull out of a match because they had broken all their rackets? And he was once forced to withdraw from an event in Miami after stepping on a seashell while walking on the beach. A couple of weeks later surgery to his left foot was required for the removal of fragments!
But that blistering left-handed serve, unleashed from the memorable wide stance, will go down as one of the most profitable shots of all time. For several years on the Tour he led the ATP’s annual ace count and it’s easy to understand why he will be a national hero in his homeland forevermore.
Don't miss out on attending this year's best tennis event. Thursday 28th November - Sunday 1st December 2019.