Tennis Prose



Recalling the Ivanisevic-Woodforde Feud

Aside from LeSean McCoy and Osi Umenyiora, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, Sean Avery and Dion Phaneuf, there just aren’t that many wars of words lately in the sports world. Rarely does trash talking happen in tennis. But one of the juiciest fueds was at the 1998 U.S. Open between Mark Woodforde and Goran Ivanisevic.

Ivanisevic beat Woody 63 64 64 and after the match at their press conferences, bitter words were spoken.

Woodforde ignited the firestorm when he told the tennis media in his conference room that the big Croat “had a serve and not much else.” And that he “wouldn’t pay” to watch Goran play tennis.

Goran responded sharply. “I don’t know, he doesn’t like me too much. He wanted to hit me today with the ball. Actually he hit me and he didn’t say sorry. But he once said he is better player than me but I don’t see how, the way he is, the way his game is, man, it is very tough to watch. I think it is time for him to retire in singles. In doubles he is still good because he can still cover half the court. But he looks very poor at the court. Pretty old, can’t move, with that shitty backhand you can’t beat anybody. If I have a son, just show Woodforde picture – you can’t play tennis like him.”

When asked what caused the rift between Ivanisevic and the veteran Australian, Goran replied, “I don’t have nothing against him but he always talks how bad I am but you cannot be bad and be second in the world and top 10 for six years. And at least he hit me on purpose, I was at the net. He had straight forehand to me. He had a smash. I turned my back and he hit me. I don’t know, somewhere he hit me, he didn’t say sorry. So he hates me. But then I hit an ace after that and it kills him. I see on his face. Those guys are poor, they can’t do anything and then they hit you. It is a poor thing.”

This match at the U.S. Open was the eighth meeting between the two rivals. Though Goran won the overall head to head 6-4, Woodforde won the last two meetings after this U.S. Open match – beating Goran 64 76 in Singapore later in 1998 and also 76 46 61 in Scottsdale in 1999.

Overall, Goran had the superior career, with a 599-333 singles match record, with 22 titles and over $19 million in prize money. Woodforde posted a 319-312 record with four singles titles and over $8 million in prize money. Woodforde was elected to the Hall of Fame in Newport for his outstanding doubles career, primarily with countryman Tood Woodbridge.


  • Steve · September 28, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Goran was my favorite player of that era, tied for my favorite athlete of all time. The way a Met fan feels about ’86 is how I feel about his Wimby victory (I hung on each and every point) but all his Wimby SF and finals were memorable. Never a boring moment with Goran on the court. His groundies were a little underrated and YES he should have beaten Agassi.

    I remember this attack from Woodbridge and it seemed odd. Sour grapes from a doubles guy?

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 28, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Steve, Fav athlete of all time? Who was the other co fav? I always like Ivanisevic too, to see him finally win Wimbledon was a fantastic thing, will never forget him talking to and kissing the balls before serving on his match points. And his reaction at finally winning was beautiful to see, though it was sad to see such a great champion as Rafter have to lose that epic match. Can’t believe the harsh words by Woody and Goran here, you rarely see such outspoken bad blood, you usually see diplomacy but these two just went after each other. Can’t imagine what triggered this feud, which seems to have started on Woodforde’s end. Today I reckon there are some feuds like this one but the players keep it underwraps or settle it amongst themselves. I know Djokovic and Roddick got pretty hostile against each other, particularly from Roddick’s side but they patched it up. From what I was told they were thisclose to throwing down. Which are some other tennis feuds you enjoyed? I like Hingis vs. The Williams family. Hewitt vs. Coria and Chela was very intense as was Almagro-Berdych.

  • Steve · September 29, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    I only enjoy the old school feuds. Connors getting in Mac’s face or Lendl/Mac. I was startled when Solderling openly mocked Nadal at Wimby.

    The ugliest feud was Agassi/Sampras in the doubles expo just a few years ago –wish that one didn’t happen. I imagine Agassi was harboring ill will for years and it finally came out but who knows.

    As far as Woodforde, I can only guess that when someone takes the racquet out of your hands by hitting aces all day it can be frustrating.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 29, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Steve you have to renew your old school fued with the chessmaster ) I’m going to go over there soon and try to hit with him. The Connors finger wag in McEnroe’s face was classic, wish incidents like that happened more. Seems players today are too smart to get caught up in anything like that with how the media will blow it way out of proportion. Hewitt and Corretja had a classic fued, Hewitt crushed Corretja like 0 0 and 1 in Australia and Corretja did not like it one bit. Then they played indoors later and Hewitt broke him the first game and Yelled a huge COME ON. THose were the days.

  • Steve · September 30, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    HA. No feud with the Chessmaster just the ups & downs of typical weekend tennis.
    I actually prefer Federer’s approach where the other players are treated like respected colleagues –for the most part.

  • Steve · September 30, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    So Scoop you actually play better when you’re angry or better when calm & cold or jolly?

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 30, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Steve yes I like to see the classy battles of respect typified by Federer and Nadal, Edberg, Moya, etc. But also enjoy the bad blood battles such as Agassi-Becker, Mac-Jimbo, etc to spice up the show.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 30, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Steve, definitely play better mad. This match is the perfect example: I was down 3-5 in the first set. The court was cracked up pretty bad. Two of his balls his cracks and took crazy bounces which I lost both points. Then the next court opened up and I said let’s move over there. But he didn’t want to and was snide about it. The Tourney director said we both had to agree to change courts so we stayed put. Then I thought I hit a baseline and he called it out, my friend saw it and said it was dead on the line. Then I got totally fired up to a different level, yelling Come on! after winning certain points and it just changed the momentum of the match. I just went on a roll on adrenaline and fire and won every game from that point on, from 3-5 down, I won 7-5 6-0. That’s when I really realized that emotional adrenaline can change a match for you. Also, in stressful matches, when the feelings of pressure and nervousness come in, I block them out and replace them with arrogance and fighting spirit. Like, instead of feeling scared and weak from the pressure, replace that negative emotion with something else, walk around feeling like a wild animal, hunting and capturing prey, actually clawing and tearing them up with your fangs. Sounds crazy I know, but I learned this approach from a former boxing champion Mark Breland who told me before fights he used to imagine himself and visualize being an animal chasing and catching prey. LOL. Try it, it works )

  • Steve · September 30, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    Interesting. Did you notice how cool Sampras was against Gilbert? Its very rare to be that cold and relaxed out there on the courts. I think being cold also plays with the opponent’s mind. It’s hard to fake though.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 30, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    Pete was ultra cool but he said he had a fire inside that people didn’t recognize, they thought he was lackaidasical. Pete was like a machine, or a panther. I think Pete played possum by hiding his fire, you know he must have had a tremendous burning desire to be the best and to stay on top six years in a row. I think Pete tricked people with his cool exterior, it was a deception. I try that too sometimes, mix it up, sometimes conserve all emotions and energy, like Borg. Good to mix it up. Being unpredictable on the court is important part of tactics.



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