Raeburn Place: Charisma the key for Goran

Goran Ivanisevic struggles with his umbrella in Edinburgh yesterday. Horizontal rain meant John McEnroe could play for just three minutes. Picture: Jane Barlow
Goran Ivanisevic struggles with his umbrella in Edinburgh yesterday. Horizontal rain meant John McEnroe could play for just three minutes. Picture: Jane Barlow
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THE Wimbledon men’s final should be contested by the two current top players who have the most charisma, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, former champion Goran Ivanisevic said yesterday.

Speaking at the rain-interrupted Brodie’s Champions of Tennis tournament in Edinburgh, 2001 Wimbledon victor Ivanisevic predicted that the No.1 and 2 seeds would fight out this year’s final.

“My first pick is Djokovic, the second is Andy,” said Ivanisevic. “It would be a great final.

“I think Djokovic is going to go to the final easy. He has a very open draw and I think he is very happy.”

It would be a final between two charismatic players: “There are some guys with charisma, Djokovic has it, Andy, it’s great to watch these guys. Not too many guys have it, but for me these two guys definitely have it.”

The point about players’ charisma, or lack of it, got Ivanisevic musing: “The players could be a little bit different. They all speak the same way, especially in the press conferences. It’s like they have a tape in place and everybody just speaks the same. But it’s a different time.

“It’s very strange, when I see somebody showing their emotions on court, like Andy does, which is great for tennis, then everybody boos. The people are not happy – what do they want? They are not happy when they are not doing anything, they are not happy when they do something. It’s tough to please the people.”

According to the giant Croatian, Murray has serious prospects of success. He said: “Last year he was in the final and he played an unbelievable set to 5-5 and then played a sloppy game and lost the match, but every year he has a chance.

“He has been one of the best guys in the past five or six years, he won the US Open and Olympics last year and he has a good draw. He is in the tougher side of the draw, but I think he is happy with the draw.

“It was a good move that he pulled out of the French Open. It gave him more time to prepare, to make his back all right. At Queen’s he was moving unbelievably well.”

A Murray victory would be good for tennis: “For him it would be great. For me the best moment in tennis last year was when Andy won the US Open, because he really deserved it.

“Probably the best moment for tennis this year would be if he wins Wimbledon.

“It would be great, really great. First of all for all of Britain and Scotland and for the youngsters.

“Tennis is not a big sport here compared to football but if he does it, I think so many kids would pick up a racquet. And nobody would talk any more about Fred Perry. For a guy like that to win Wimbledon would just be the perfect story.”

Ivanisevic lost three Wimbledon finals before his 2001 win, and knows exactly how Murray felt on Centre Court last year. He said: “It’s tough when you lose the final – you don’t want to know. When you have to receive that plate, it’s a lovely plate, but you don’t want to have the plate, you want to have the trophy. It’s actually a s*** feeling, to be honest.”

His coach Ivan Lendl has made a big difference to Murray, said Ivanisevic: “He is much more aggressive. Andy was defending well but he was not pushing.

“Now he hits those forehands, he is not afraid to come in, he is not afraid to have a go, because against these guys you can’t wait for their mistakes because they don’t make them.

“He is just not afraid to hit the ball, he is much more aggressive and much more positive, and I like the way he is on court, showing his emotions. He is Scottish, so he has to show some.”

The afternoon session at the Brodie’s Champions of Tennis tournament was washed out by that particular Scottish phenomenon – horizontal rain. The canopy over the court was open at the side and the rain drenched the west side of the court, making it unplayable apart from three minutes between John McEnroe and Mikael Penfors that was more entertaining than some recent 90-minute SPL matches.