ATP Players

Goran Ivanisevic

Goran Simun Ivanisevic (born in Split, September 13, 1971)is a former professional tennis player from Croatia. He is best remembered for being the only person to win the men's singles title at Wimbledon as a wildcard. He achieved this in 2001, having previously been runner-up at the championships in 1992, 1994 and 1998. Ivanisevic is famous for his strong serve, which is one of the greatest to date. His career-high singles ranking was World No. 2 (behind Pete Sampras) in 1994.

Career

Ivanisevic was born in Split, Croatia (then Yugoslavia). He turned professional in 1988, and won his first career doubles title later that year in Frankfurt (with Rudiger Haas).

Ivaniševi? made his first significant impact on the tennis world in 1990. In the French Open, he knocked-out Boris Becker in the first round of the men's singles and went on to reach the quarter-finals. Becker reportedly remarked about Ivaniševi? that "even God could not have played any better". He was also runner-up in the French Open men's doubles (with Petr Korda). A few weeks later at Wimbledon, Ivanisevic made it all the way to the semi-finals, where he again met Becker and put up an impressive display before going down in four sets. Becker predicted after the match Ivaniševi? would be a future Wimbledon champion. Ivaniševi? also won his tour first singles title in 1990 at Stuttgart, and helped Yugoslavia win the World Team Cup.

Ivanisevic quickly became known on the tour for his strong, attacking style of play and for an extremely powerful serve. For several years, he was the leading scorer of aces on the tour. A brilliant player, who was capable of beating anyone in the world when he was at his very best, he was also known for occasional on-court temper tantrums and, from time-to-time, for "tanking" in matches (particularly in final sets) and being blown away by opponents he was capable of beating.

Ivaniševi? lost in the second round at Wimbledon in 1991 and courted controversy during the championships by not only expressing his strong Croatian patriotic sentiments during the period of independence from Yugoslavia, but also urging the top women's player Monica Seles (a Serbia-born ethnic Hungarian) to publicly express her stance, which she refused to do.

In 1992 Ivanisevic reached the Wimbledon singles final, where he faced Andre Agassi. Both up-and-coming stars were gunning for their first Grand Slam title. In a dramatic five-set encounter, it was Agassi who eventually won 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4. Later that summer, at the Olympic Games in Barcelona, Ivanisevic won Bronze Medals in both singles and doubles for the newly-independent nation of Croatia. He also won four singles titles that year.

Ivaniševi? reached the Wimbledon final for the second time in 1994, where he was defeated by defending-champion Pete Sampras in three sets, 7-6, 7-6, 6-0. Ivanisevic reached his career-high singles ranking of World No. 2 in July that year.

In 1995, Ivanisevic won the Grand Slam Cup, beating Todd Martin in the final 7-6, 6-3, 6-4. Continuing his strong performances at the Wimbledon tournament, he would reach the semifinals that year, losing to Pete Sampras in a hard fought five set match, 7-6 4-6 6-3 4-6 6-3.

In 1996 he won a career-best five singles titles. He reached the Grand Slam Cup final again, but this time lost to Becker in straight sets. He set a tour record by serving 1,477 aces over the course of the season. Ivanisevic also teamed-up with Iva Majoli to win the 1996 Hopman Cup for Croatia. Ivaniševi? would also reach his first Grand Slam semifinal other than Wimbledon at the U.S. Open that year, falling once again to Pete Sampras in four sets.

In 1998, Ivanisevic reached his third Wimbledon final. He faced Sampras again and pushed him to five sets before losing a closely-fought contest 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. After three final defeats, many people wondered if the man often touted as a future Wimbledon winner would ever fulfill his promise.

Ivaniševi? finished runner-up in the French Open men's doubles in 1999 (with Jeff Tarango). However for much of 1999, 2000 and 2001, he struggled with a shoulder injury and his performance and world ranking began to steadily slide. He was widely acclaimed as the best player never to win a Grand Slam.

But then came the summer of 2001. Ivanisevic was ranked the World No. 125. This was not good enough to earn him an automatic place in the main draw at Wimbledon but, given his past record as a three-time finalist, the organizers decided to give him a wildcard entry. Against all expectations, he powered his way through the draw to reach the final, setting-up a showdown with the previous year's runner-up and former US Open champion Patrick Rafter. (It was the first singles final which Ivaniševi? had qualified for since 1998.) In an epic struggle lasting three hours and one minute, Ivaniševi? out-lasted Rafter to win in five sets 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 2-6, 9-7. Just two months shy of his 30th birthday, Ivanisevic became the lowest-ranked player and the first wildcard entry to win Wimbledon. His Wimbledon success was rated sixteenth at the list of 100 Greatest Sporting Moments.

Ivanisevic received the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality Award in 2001.

The 2001 Wimbledon win proved to be the last of Ivanisevic's career. He temporarily retired later in 2001 due to shoulder surgery, but remained listed at the bottom of the ATP's rankings. He returned to tennis in 2004, but retired permanently after a third-round loss to Lleyton Hewitt at Wimbledon. After the match, he again prominently displayed his Croatian heritage, this time by putting on a Croatia national football team jersey.

Over the course of his career Ivaniševi? won 22 top-level singles titles and 9 doubles titles.

In 2005 Ivaniševi? was a member of the Croatian team for the Davis Cup final against Slovakia in Bratislava, though he did not play in any of the match-ups. Croatia won the final 3-2.

In June 2006 he performed in the Calderstones Park tournament in Liverpool.

In November 2006 Ivanisevic made history again by winning the Frankfurt title, part of the Merrill Lynch Tour of Champions, defeating a fit John McEnroe in 2 tight sets 7-6(12), 7-6(1). After the match, Ivanisevic said “It’s always great to play John. He was my idol, and it is special to beat him.”

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