Former US Open champion Pat Rafter says he was hurting and seething after his 2001 Wimbledon final loss to Goran Ivanisevic and that it stayed with him for a long time. Ivanisevic, who needed a wild card to play the 2001 event and had lost three Wimbledon finals in the past, beat Rafter in a classic five-setter 6–3 3–6 6–3 2–6 9–7.
Pat Rafter on his Wimbledon loss to Goran Ivanisevic
Speaking about the final on a recent episode of The Tennis Podcast, hosted by broadcasters Catherine Whitaker and David Law, Rafter says he really wanted to win Wimbledon before his career ended and knew that he was close to retirement that time.
“At the time, I’ve got to deal with it. I’m not happy. When we shook hands it all looks like we’re best buddies, but it was hurting. I was seething. It wasn’t easy. It (his post-match commiseration party) was bittersweet as well.
It was really touching, there were some really nice, sentimental things said but it was also very hard to take because you were the loser”. Rafter says while he can laugh about it now, the loss stayed with him for a long time.
"I can laugh about it now, but at the time I had no laughter in me when that final point went his way. That selfish part of me wants that Wimbledon trophy. Gee, it would have been great to have. Every now and then a thought or a flashback might come in (of that match) and I’m very quick to just push it aside.
I think for the first five years I was waking up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night just re-enacting or going through a game at 5-4 on his serve and just thinking, ‘I wish I’d picked this way, I wish I’d done that’ and that stayed with me for quite a while”.
The Aussie says he has also gotten used to getting ribbed about the loss whenever he meets the Croatian. "It was a pretty moving moment for both of us but he’ll just sit there and literally give me s***. It’s unreal.
He’ll say, ‘How are you feeling? I won that, you know that?’ “It’s just classic, it’s just Goran and I just sit there and laugh … What else am I going to do? I’m either going to cry or I’m going to laugh”.
Pat Rafter is a former World No. 1 player and won consecutive US Open titles in 1997 and 1998. He also reached consecutive finals at Wimbledon in 2000 and 2001.