Tennis - Goran Ivanisevic says he realized he could win Wimbledon in 2001 after his second round win over Carlos Moya as he discovered that he had rediscovered his big serve. The Croatian was a three-time runner-up at Wimbledon but needed a wild card to compete in the 2001 Championships after dropping to No. 125 in the rankings.
And while not many gave him much of a chance to do much damage at the All-England Club as a wild card, in an interview with Vice Sports Ivanisevic says his second round win over the Spaniard gave him some much needed confidence. "In the first round I got some qualifier – some Swede, Johnson or something like that – and in the second I was playing Carlos Moya, a seed. That's where I felt my serve was back and that something big was going to happen. Poor old Moya was hammered at the press conference, like: "How on earth could you lose to that guy?!" The bottom line was, the media kept writing me off after each round. The only one who kept believing in me was Pat Cash, who kept warning people: "Ivanišević knows how to play on grass, he is playing well, and you never know with him." I couldn't say before a match: "Hey people, I'm going to win Wimbledon," because they would have taken me to the madhouse right away, or locked me up in the Tower of London. But I played better and better each match, I won against Roddick, and Rusedski, and Safin, and then that semi-final with Tim Henman happened."
In the same interview, the big-serving Croatian says he was fascinated by the grass at Wimbledon and always wondered how players could play on such a surface. "As a kid I always loved watching Wimbledon the most. That grass fascinated me - how could anyone play on grass? Why on earth grass? Back then I thought that was the same grass we have in the parks; later I realised it wasn't like that. The first time I got to Wimbledon, in 1988, it was an amazing thing for me. Why not Queens? That's a completely different grass! The grass at Wimbledon is somehow softer, caught my serve better, and dude, Wimbledon is Wimbledon – it's a miracle! Watching all those people queuing up, coming in the evening to stand in line and buy a ticket in the morning, that was awesome for me. Even though the French Open was the first Grand Slam where I achieved something, Wimbledon was always special for me. As a matter of fact, that reflected my results later on."
Ivanisevic completed his fairytale at the All England Club in 2001 by going on to beat Pat Rafter in a Monday final that went to five sets and win the only Grand Slam title of his career.