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Goran Ivanisevic Sets Up another Wimbledon 2001 Rematch

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Goran Ivanisevic Sets Up another Wimbledon 2001 Rematch


By beating Greg Rusedski in the quarterfinal stage at London’s historic Royal Albert Hall yesterday, Goran Ivanisevic set up yet another mouth-watering Wimbledon rematch at the Aegon Masters event.  Today, the popular Croatian will face Aussie Pat Rafter in the semifinals, a rematch of their epic 2001nWimbledon final.   The latter was  a turning point in Ivanisevic’s career which he now believes ‘saved his life’.

Ivanisevic continued to crush the Brit contingent by beating Rusedski 7-6(6), 7-6(6) in a frenzied exchange of aces and saving set points in both sets.  This was a familiar moment in their rivalry which dates back to 1994.  Rusedski said: “I’ve only beaten him once on tour. Goran for me is always a challenge.”

In the post match press conference, I was eager to know whether Ivanisevic had changed his game at all to suit the new slower courts and technology of the rackets.  He said: “I don’t mind to stay back but still I always like to serve my aces and go for the big shots.”

The Croatian is doing a great job of reminding tennis fans of why he was such a great asset to the tour with his attacking all-or-nothing style of play at the Royal Albert Hall.  A rare glimpse of tennis as it was played in the 90s juxtaposed with the recent Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at London’s contrasting O2 Arena where Rafael Nadal and company punished each other with long baselines rallies and formidable topspin.

Ivanisevic said: “You can’t serve and volley in tennis now. The courts are too slow. The top ten guys, I don’t want to mention any names, but a lot of them haven’t got a clue how to volley. They don’t come to the net enough. You have to come in on the right ball. The guys are so quick.”

Another player providing an exhibition of exquisite approach play is none other than Britain’s, Tim Henman.   He defeated ATP Champions Tour Rankings leader, Thomas Enqvist 6-3, 3-6, 10-7 to reach the semifinal stage of his first competitive tournament since his retirement three years ago.  “It’s always a pleasure to play at home,” said Henman. “This is my first event on the Champions Tour and there’s no better way to start than at the Royal Albert Hall with a crowd like this.”

Henman looked remarkably sharp against Enqvist in his quarterfinal yesterday.   But,unusually, Henman had to ask the patriotic British crowd to start cheering for him, as the “silence” was making him nervous.  The chant ‘c’mon Tim’ is so ingrained into the British collective consciousness, that some even say it when Andy Murray is on court, such is his enduring appeal.

It’s all set for Tim and Goran to meet for a second time in the final on Sunday, unless Pat Rafter or Champions Tour veteran, Todd Martin can produce something special today.  Rafter said: “Goran’s serve is ridiculous and so hard to return. I’ll probably come dressed in cricket gear and see what happens!”

Follow Melina Harris’ coverage for MiamiTennisNews on twitter under the username @thetenniswriter

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Henman – Ivanisevic: The Wimbledon Rematch

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Henman – Ivanisevic: The Wimbledon Rematch


Tim Henman and Goran Ivanisevic faced each other at the Royal Albert Hall in London last night for the first time since their epic semi-final at Wimbledon in 2001. Ivanisevic broke the hearts of the British public by beating Henman in a thrilling five set match spread across three days due to the unpredictable British weather.

I clearly remember listening to the commentary secretly during lessons at my school in North London on my vintage Sony Walkman, nerves on edge.  Arguably, this was Henman’s most promising opportunity to be the first British man since Fred Perry to lift the Wimbledon crown.   With a certain American, Pete Sampras, knocked out in the fourth round by none other than recent ATP Tour Finals champion, Roger Federer, the path seemed clear or so we thought.

However, the stars were shining favourably on the charismatic Croat, who famously ate at the same table at the same restaurant every night during the Wimbledon fortnight.   En route to his well deserved Wimbledon title, the pinnacle of any professional tennis player’s career, Ivanisevic won back the heart of the British crowd in his fairytale win against Aussie, Pat Rafter.  Ranked world number 125 due to a recurring shoulder injury, Ivanisevic reached the final as a wild card entry and previously had three tough Wimbledon final losses to Andre Agassi in 1992 and Pete Sampras in 1994 and 1998.

He famously said to reporters: “If some angel comes tonight in my dreams and says: ‘OK Goran, you’re going to win Wimbledon tomorrow, but you’re not able to touch the racket ever again,’ I will say: ‘OK, I’d rather take that and then never play tennis again in my life.’”

Yet, the changeable Croat with dual personalities is back.  And what a comeback it has been for the 39-year-old.   A regular on the seniors tour, Ivanisevic has won two titles in Barcelona and Knokke this season and recorded his fastest ever serve this year. He was one of the many players who encouraged Henman out of retirement to join legends such as Stefen Edberg, John McEnroe and Britain’s own, Greg Rusedski on the ATP Champions Tour in a more jovial yet competitive atmosphere.

“I saw him at the World Tour Finals in London last year and I told him he should come back and play with us,” Ivanisevic said of Henman. “He’s a great tennis player and we miss players like him.”

The players certainly didn’t disappoint the animated crowd last night. In fact, with the pressure off, they produced an outstanding level of tennis, with Ivanisevic serving as well as I’d ever witnessed, winning the first set 6-4. Indeed, Henman said in the post match press conference that no one had ever served as well against him in his entire career in that first set.  Heady praise for the Croat who revealed he is serving faster than ever before with the “new technology” of rackets these days.

With “good” Goran serving on all cylinders, this could have been a baptism of fire on the fast indoor court for Henman, only in his second match out of retirement. But, the Brit held his nerve well and showed many glimpses of his former glory, with great net play and feel around the court, winning the second set 7-5 and bringing the match to an exciting deciding Championship tiebreak.

Despite the hecklings of the old Tim faithful, Goran served his way to the match with an 11-9 victory in the Champions’ Tie-Break, looking impressively sharp on his backhand returns too.

Both looked exhilarated and liberated by the atmosphere of the ATP Champions Tour, particularly in the historic setting of London’s Royal Albert Hall. In the post match press conference Henman revealed his “body felt good” and was pleased with the “good quality of tennis out there.”  Similarly, Goran was beaming as he said “today I felt great” and emphasized how much he is enjoying his tennis without the mental pressure of the tour.  To my question of whether he still enjoyed playing up to his loveable villain reputation, he laughed and said:  “People have always called me so many things. I don’t mind.”

Well, last night Goran, you were quite simply brilliant.

Follow Melina Harris’ coverage for MiamiTennisNews on twitter under the username @thetenniswriter

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Andy Roddick Scheduled to Play in the 2011 Delray Beach International Tennis Championships

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Andy Roddick Scheduled to Play in the 2011 Delray Beach International Tennis Championships


Andy Roddick is scheduled to play in the 2011 International Tennis Championships in Delray Beach, Florida.  Roddick will join fellow Americans Mardy Fish, John Isner, and the Bryan brothers at the ATP World Tour event to be held February 18 – 27, 2011.

Here is the official press release from the tournament :

DELRAY BEACH, FL (www.YellowTennisBall.com) - Andy Roddick is coming back to “The Beach.” The former Boca Raton resident and 2003 US Open champion will return to the tournament where he made his pro debut when he plays in the 2011 Delray Beach International Tennis Championships (ITC) ATP World Tour event next February.

Roddick’s signing was announced Thursday as the Delray Beach ITC was accepting the 2010 Providencia Award from the Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau for its lead role in contributions to the area as a tourist destination.

The 19th annual Delray Beach ITC will be held Feb. 18-27 at the Delray Beach Stadium & Tennis Center, and will include both the ATP World Tour event alongside the 2nd annual ATP Champions Tour event featuring John McEnroe.

“It’s so great to have Andy come home where he started,” said tournament director Mark Baron, who gave an 18-year-old Roddick his first wild card into an ATP-level event in 2000. “Everyone has been asking for the last six years ‘when is he going to come back?’ We’re expecting the phones to be ringing off the hook.”

To celebrate Roddick’s signing, the ITC is running a discounted ticket promotion from October 1 -17. All single session reserved seats are 20% off (reg price $35-$85) while single session box seats are 10% off (reg price $65-$85). Reserved series ticket packages are also discounted 10%. Fans can order online through www.YellowTennisBall.com or by calling 561-330-6000.

Roddick’s 2000 pro debut began a string of four appearances in Delray Beach. The Boca Prep grad reached the 2002 ITC final, and by season’s end became the youngest American to finish in the Top 10 since Michael Chang in 1992.

“I am excited to return to Delray Beach,” said the 28-year old Roddick. “I received my first wild card as a professional tennis player in Delray so the tournament certainly has a special significance in my career.”

The Grand Slam champion became the youngest American to finish No.1 in the world when he achieved that ranking in 2003 as a 21-year-old. He has finished in the ATP’s Top 10 for eight straight years and enjoyed a five-year run in the Top 5 during that time. Roddick is a three-time Wimbledon runner-up, a 2006 US Open finalist, and has won 29 ATP titles in 10 years as a pro. His 41 US Davis Cup singles wins ranks second all-time behind McEnroe.

Roddick joins 2009 ITC singles champion Mardy Fish and Wimbledon record-setting John Isner in committing to play in the ITC’s ATP World Tour event, setting up a draw with three of the top four-ranked American singles players. Also returning to Delray Beach are the ITC’s defending doubles champions and world No.1 Byran Brothers while the ATP Champions Tour event has already received commitments from McEnroe, Mats Wilander, Pat Cash,Mark Philippoussis, Greg Rusedski and, most recently, Boca Raton’s Aaron Krickstein. McEnroe, Wilander, Cash and Krickstein played in the inaugural event in 2010.

The tournament’s reserved series ticket packages that are discounted 10% during this special promotion include the following: The $490 (reg price) Diamond package including all 18 sessions of ATP Champions and

ATP World Tour action; the $290 (reg price) Champions package (sessions 1-9) combining all ATP Champions Tour matches and four ATP World Tour sessions; the $390 (reg price) World package (sessions 6-18) giving fans all ATP World Tour matches plus  two days of ATP Champions Tour matches (including the final); and the popular $200 (reg price) Weekender package including tickets for the ATP World Tour quarterfinals, semifinals and finals (sessions 14-18) .

The ON-COURT “Best Seats In The House” are priced between $150 and $250, depending on the session.

All ticket opportunities, prices and amenities are explained in detail at www.YellowTennisBall.com. For more information, please call the tournament office at 561-330-6000.

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