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Chennai Open: Bopanna praised

Top Seed Ivan Ljubicic talks about his life, visit to India, and Rohan Bopanna.

india Updated: Jan 06, 2006 14:11 IST
S Kannan

Rarely does a wild card become the top seed in an ATP Tour event. Well, Ivan Ljubicic, the rising tennis star born in Sarajevo decided to come for the Chennai Open at the last minute. And he knew, to come all the way to this southern metropolis in India meant not just lot of travel, but also taking several other factors in his stride.

Architect of Croatia's maiden Davis Cup win last year, the tall man took time to settle down before defeating Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 7-6 (8-6), 7-5.

"I wasn't expecting to come and play big tennis right away. Today more than anything else, I enjoyed playing tennis," he said.

For a player with such a busy schedule, he still manages to find time to pen down a few lines for websites. And on Wednesday he decided to go on a sightseeing tour of Chennai. Chaotic it may have been for him to see traffic speeding recklessly but he took it in his stride.

In a chat with HT, Ljubicic spoke on several topics. Following are the excerpts:

How did you prepare for the tournament and the match?

I was scheduled to play late, so I warmed up around 4 p.m. I was sparring with Rohan Bopanna, who will be a very good player. In Chennai, I knew matches start late, so I know I had to plan myself. Since the first match lasted for a long time, I got to eat a lot of pasta for dinner, as I knew I would have extra time to digest it before the match.

How would you rate the win?

I feel fantastic. This is my first event of the year, and I had a good feel on the ball.

What has been your philosophy in life?

You work all your life and hope to achieve something. My goal is to be successful and, even if I have to stop now, I can say I've achieved my goal. Can you recall your early playing days?

When I was nine, I was big in size and my family was determined I played something. My father (an electrician) drove me to the tennis courts. The only problem was the courts were outside city limits.

Did you have problems back home?

It was ok till 1992, before the fighting started (Civil War). Suddenly, all entrances were blocked which meant no play. For two months I did not hit a ball. I played other games which was frustrating. After some time my dad decided to fly the family out to Belgrade on a cargo plane and we reached Opatija. My father came there later and for five months we were in a refugee hotel.

How do you feel when you are compared with Goran Ivanisevic, Niki Pilic and Zeljko Franulovic?

At this stage, it's impossible to achieve what Ivanisevic has done. He has won Wimbledon, which I have not. He was No. 2, something I've got time to achieve

First Published: Jan 05, 2006 11:38 IST