Tennis-Ivanisevic races through match in time for World Cup
12:25 p.m. Jun 30, 1998 Eastern
By Paul Majendie
LONDON, June 30 (Reuters) - Goran Ivanisevic kept one eye on the clock
at Wimbledon on Tuesday to make sure he was off court in time to watch
his beloved Croatia play in the World Cup.
Ivanisevic had all the motivation he needed as time ticked by in his
fourth round battle of the big hitters with Todd Martin.
The fourth set went to a tie-break, he disposed off Martin and then
headed for the television set.
``It is nice that I finished and now I can concentrate on the second
half,'' he told reporters before racing off to cheer on his team.
Ivanisevic, aiming to be third time lucky at Wimbledon after twice
losing in the final, is convinced he is playing his best tennis ever
at the world's biggest tournament.
``This is the most important tournament for me,'' said the Croat with
the black beard, bandana and brooding eyes which make him resemble the
bad guy in a Clint Eastwood movie.
He is now more than ready for the next shoot-out.
``It means a lot. This year is a good chance for me and maybe I am
playing the best tennis ever I play here. Three more matches to go,''
Ivanisevic delivers 1,000 aces a year, consistently topping the table
of big hitters.
But on Tuesday in his 7-6 6-3 3-6 7-6 victory over Martin, it was the
American who served 23 aces to just 15 for Ivanisevic on an uncertain
surface in swirling wind.
The mercurial Croatian, often his own worst enemy on the court, said:
``I didn't lose my mind today. I was very concentrated.''
But he then admitted with a chuckle that he had been keeping a wary
eye on the time. ``It is a big clock here at Wimbledon,'' he said.
At the end, Martin wished him well and told him: ``Well played. Go far
Ivanisevic is emerging from a disastrous slump, having won just one
match in the last five grand slams.
``After five poor ones, there has to come one good one,'' he said.
Ivanisevic sported a tattoo on his shoulder which he felt encapsulated
his many moods. ``It is a cross, a shark and a rose. A cross is a
cross, a rose like love and shark is a pretty tough animal.''
A reporter broke the news that Croatia had taken the lead 1-0 in the
World Cup. ``Good,'' Ivanesevic said, beaming from ear to ear as he
sped off to watch the rest of the match on television.