Advertisement

Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at tampabay.com/coronavirus. Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive

Ivanisevic draws on memory of Petrovic to win 5-set match

Croatia's Goran Ivanisevic paid a debt to a dead friend Tuesday with an inspired and courageous victory in his opening match at Wimbledon.

Two weeks ago, Ivanisevic lost his opening match at Queen's Club just a few days after the death in a car accident of a close compatriot, basketball star Drazen Petrovic.

On Tuesday, fifth-seeded Ivanisevic was taken to the brink by unseeded Jonathan Stark, but the memory of Petrovic helped him through the crisis to a 6-4, 5-7, 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 triumph.

"I just couldn't play at Queen's because of what happened to him," Ivanisevic said. "It was very sad, then I went home for the funeral.

"It's tough to get going again when you see those things, but I tried to play. I tried to think about him and then I tried to play my best. Today I thought about it at two sets to one down. I thought, "Come on, fight for him, fight to the last point. Something might change.' And that's what happened."

Ivanisevic, beaten in last year's final by Andre Agassi, weathered numerous crises during the match, including 0-40 on his own serve in the ninth game of the deciding set.

Two aces and a drop shot bailed him out, and he had to save a fourth break point as well before holding serve and breaking Stark in the 10th game with a backhand pass.

Ivanisevic was given a code violation warning for an audible obscenity in the second set. Ivanisevic said it didn't bother him too much: "I mean I could kill the guy, but then I thought it was only second set and there were a couple to go, so don't kill him yet."

In other action:

Thirteenth-seeded Mary Pierce, whose father was banned from tournaments for the rest of the year for poor behavior, withdrew from the singles draw because of the flu.

Fourth-seeded Boris Becker downed Marc Goellner 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. Goellner is known as "Baby Boom Boom" because of his on-court resemblance to Becker. Although Goellner _ whose serve was clocked at 125 mph _ finished the first set with four aces in a row, Becker edged him 20-17 and dominated at the net. Becker is a three-time Wimbledon champion. Goellner: "After the first set, I think he turned his motor on. I felt I could have won, and I definitely had him worried. But it's a dream come true for me, to play my hero in what he calls his living room."

Seventh-seeded Jennifer Capriati of Saddlebrook overcame a bad start and a lackluster performance to put away Shirli-Ann Siddall 6-7 (7-5), 6-2, 6-1 in 1 hour, 50 minutes. Capriati _ with a new grass-court coach, Pete McNamee of Australia _ served poorly and played tentatively at the start. Capriati: "I was a little off on my shots in the first set. I wasn't really into the groove yet. I missed shots here and there I shouldn't have. But then I got more aggressive and she started missing shots and I put pressure on her." McNamee was not unhappy Capriati was pushed to three sets in her opening match: "She needed a tough match since she didn't have a tuneup tournament."

There was one mild upset, as 16th-seeded Thomas Muster fell 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 to 103rd-ranked Olivier Delaitre. Muster never has won a pro tour match on grass, losing in the first round in each of his three Wimbledons.

Twelfth-seeded Michael Chang won his darkness-delayed match against Paul Haarhuis 6-2, 6-2, 4-6, 6-7 (7-5), 6-4. Chang said he has changed his game after a talk with his brother, Carl. Chang: "I asked him who would win if I played myself _ a serve-and-volley me or a baseline me. Carl said the serve-and-volley me." Thus, for the rest of Wimbledon, the serve-and-volley Chang will be in evidence. It took Chang 3 hours, 20 minutes to beat Haarhuis, a Dutchman who graduated from Florida State in 1988 with an economics degree.

The big story in the London tabloids: Does defending champion Andre Agassi shave his body? One paper ran contrasting pictures of Agassi from last year with a hairy chest and from this year with an apparently bare chest.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Advertisement
Advertisement