Goran Ivanisevic is a former world number 2 ranked player, famous for being the only man to win the Wimbledon singles title on a wildcard entry. He is also known for his booming serves and lively personality.
Born in Croatia on the 13th of September 1971, Ivanisevic turned pro at the age of 17, in 1988. He made an impression in the pro tour, when he upset Boris Becker in the first round of the 1990 French Open and progressed to the quarter finals. In the French Open doubles that year, he was a runner-up, partnering Petr Korda. That same year at Wimbledon, he reached the semi-finals, losing in four sets to Boris Becker. Impressed by Ivanisevic’s performance, Becker tipped him to be a future champion at Wimbledon. This year would also see Ivanisevic winning his first singles title on tour, at Stuttgart. He was also a member of the Yugoslavian team that emerged champions at the World Team Cup.
Heartache at Wimbledon
In 1992, Ivanisevic was pitched against another up and coming player, Andre Agassi, at the Wimbledon final. Both men were competing for their first major title; Agassi won the encounter in 5 sets. Later that year, Ivanisevic won bronze medals for singles and doubles at the Olympic Games in Barcelona.
In 1994, Ivanisevic was back in the Wimbledon finals, this time against Pete Sampras. Sampras went on to win the match in straight sets. Ivanisevic finished the year with a career high, world ranking of 2.
In 1995, Ivanisevic made it to the semi-finals at Wimbledon. Once again he was pitted against Sampras, who came through in a tough five setter. In 1996, he made his first semi-final appearance at the US Open. He was unlucky enough to have to face an in-form Sampras once again, who won in four sets.
In 1998, Ivanisevic made his 3rd Wimbledon final. Sure enough he had to play Pete Sampras once again. He did well to push Sampras (who at that time had won the tournament four times) to 5 sets, but it was Sampras who came through once again. At this point, people were speculating whether Ivanisevic would ever live up to Becker’s prediction that he would one day win the championship.
The Wildcard Dream
With a shoulder injury ruling him out of competition for most of 1999, 2000 and 2001,his ranking slipped to 125. That summer he was given a wildcard entry to Wimbledon due to his strong performances in the past. Battling against the odds, he made his way to the semi-finals, where he beat Tim Henman, from a 2 sets to 1 deficit. Ivanisevic was responsible for crushing the hopes of millions of British tennis fans in the process. Motivated by this win, he went on to defeat Patrick Rafter in 5 sets to win his long awaited Wimbledon title. This win made him the lowest ranked player and first wildcard to win Wimbledon.
Ivanisevic temporarily retired in 2001, citing a shoulder injury. He returned to Wimbledon in 2004, but lost to Lleyton Hewitt in the 3rd round. In the 2005 Davis Cup, he was registered to play for Croatia, in the final against Slovakia, but did not participate. Croatia went on to win the final 3-2.
In 2006, Ivanisevic played the Calderstones Park tournament in Liverpool and the Frankfurt leg of the Merrill Lynch Tour of Champions, where he beat John McEnroe. As recently as 2007, he took part in the Turbo Tennis exhibition tournament, where he lost to Andy Murray in the final.
Style of play
Ivanisevic was a left handed player with a double handed backhand. He had a devastating serve which made him the leading ace scorer on the tour many times. With a virtually unreturnable serve and aggressive playing style, the fast courts were where he was most destructive. Combining his strengths with his natural advantage as a left hander, Ivanisevic was feared and revered by his opponents. Ivanisevic was also known to be very temperamental on court, which resulted in him losing his concentration, and subsequently losing matches.
Life outside tennis
Ivanisevic is a keen footballer. He represented the Croatian team Hajduk Split in 2001. He also supports Everton FC. He even scored in a friendly match between the Croatian national team and the International football stars, in 2003. He is fiercely proud of his Croatian heritage, regularly sporting Croatian jerseys. He took part in a reality TV show, The Exchange Office, where he had to swap jobs with a road sweeper in Zagreb.
Career records and statistics
- He is the only man to win the Wimbledon singles title on a wildcard entry
- Apart from his win in 2001, he has been a finalist at Wimbledon in 1992,1994 and 1998.
- He was a doubles runner-up at the French Open in 1990 and 1999.
- He shares the record for the most points played in a tie-breaker at 20-18, against Daniel Nestor.
- He holds the record for most aces in a season, at 1477, in the year 1996.
- He has won 22 singles titles and 9 doubles titles in his career.
- He has a career singles record of 599 wins to 333 losses.
- He has earned a total of US $19,876,579 in career prize money.
What he said
The trouble with me is that every match I play against five opponents: umpire, crowd, ball boys, court, and myself.
I wouldn’t want to go to a sports psychiatrist, because when you’re finished, you come out more crazy than you go in.
In every game I play there are three players in me that could surface anytime, Good Goran, Bad Goran, Crazy Goran! They can all serve aces.
I have so many runner-up cups that I am thinking of starting my own tea shop.
This time it hurts a little bit more.The first time was just fun to be there. The second time I didn’t want second, I wanted to win. I guess he started to believe in himself and he believed in his serve. – Patrick Rafter, on losing the 2001 Wimbledon final to Ivanisevic
I was sort of in the process of dismantling his game, he obviously gets a chance to regroup. – Tim Henman on Ivanisevic, after losing to him in the 2001 Wimbledon semi-finals which was interrupted by rain.