Biofile: Ivan Ljubicic Interview

This is an old Biofile from the archives that I did with Loobie at the US Open in either 2002 or 2003. It needs to be updated. But it does shed some insights on a former top five champion who won ten ATP singles titles and currently serves as the coach of Roger Federer

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: Tennis player has won one ATP singles title in Lyon in 2001. Has career wins over Safin, Gaudio, Kuerten, Moya, Federer, Agassi, El Aynaoui, Kafelnikov, Henman, Schuettler, and Coria.

Ht: 6-4   Wt: 182

Born On: March 19, 1979  In: Banja Luka, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Childhood Heroes: “Stefan Edberg was and Michael Jordan – the biggest sportsman ever, I think. I liked Edberg’s style of play. He was always chasing the net and I liked it when I was a kid. And I also tried to play that way. But when you go on as a professional, you can not play the game you like [smiles]. You have to play that you do better. So I liked his person a little too – very quiet. I like him.”

Hobbies/Interests: “Computers and I read a lot of books. And I like to go on internet – as a lot of players – trying to keep in touch with other people with e-mail. It’s not easy, obviously, traveling around the world for almost 40 weeks a year. But as I said, reading a lot of books – I’m a real calm person – I think reading helps me find myself.”

Favorite Movies: “A lot of good movies, obviously. Cast Away is a real nice one and Oceans Eleven is the one I liked too.”

Musical Tastes: “Hard rock, almost metal, so, Metallica, Guns & Roses, Bon Jovi and that type of music.”

Early Tennis Memory: “I started out, it was late, I was 9. I remember the other kids were already competing when I start to learn tennis. So it was kind of difficult for me. First tournament I played, I was 12. And all the other guys had already won titles when they were 12. So that was the bad memories that I had from childhood about tennis [smiles].”

Pre-Match Feeling: “Just trying to be calm. Not thinking about opponent, just try to concern about myself. And I know if I do things right, then I can beat anyone. So I’m concentrating on myself and not thinking about opponent.”

First Job: “Well, that’s playing tennis. That’s the first money that I earned – playing tennis. Right now, that’s the only one. I never did something else.”

First Car: “Blue Ford Focus. And it was really nice one.”

Greatest Sports Moment: “Winning the title in Lyon (2001). The first and the only one, right now. That was the best that ever happened to me. I beat a lot of good guys – Kuerten, Safin, Gaudio and final I beat El Aynaoui.”

Most Painful Moment: “Losing third round in Australian Open last year (2002) against Wayne Ferreira. I was two sets to love up and 5-1 in third. With match points. I don’t know how many. But I had a lot of match points. (What happened?) Just lost [laughs]. Was 7-6 third (set), 7-5 fourth, 7-5 fifth. It was long ride. I played for over four hours. And I really struggled to recover after that one. (How long to get over it?) Well, a long time I would have to say. The match was in my mind for the next month, probably.”

Closest Tennis Friends: “Goran Ivanisevic. He’s the guy that, I mean, I grew up with him. I still talk with him really often. I’m sorry that he’s not around anymore. We have a lot of good times together.”

Funniest Player: “(Nicolas) Escude. He’s just funny. I like to chat with him. He’s really, really a cool guy, I like him a lot.”

Toughest Competitors: “Well, obviously Federer and Roddick now. But Agassi for sure is number one the last ten years. When he’s on top, I don’t think there’s anyone that can beat him except Pete Sampras and he stopped.”

Funny Tennis Memory: “Well, a lot of things, let me think…Goran breaking all the racquets and he had to retire because he had no more. That was really funny. 2000 or 2001 in Brighton, England. Was against Hyung Taik Lee. That was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and we were supposed to play doubles at 6, after the match. So he broke all racquets, he retired from his match, because, they said, ‘Lack of equipment.’ Then he went to the store, just to buy two regular racquets. Then we played doubles afterwards [laughs]. That was a good one. We lost doubles – two tiebreakers (to Barnard and Haygarth).”

People Qualities Most Admired: “Honesty. I think that’s the biggest issue at the moment, all around the world. I see a lot of people doing one thing and saying the other or thinking the third one. That’s for sure something I don’t like. And I think honesty will help us to go out of this mess that is going around the world.”


  • Scoop Malinowski · September 22, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    Years after this Biofile I asked Ivan what was the best he ever felt on court, where he was in the zone, his best wins…Ivan Ljubicic: “I played some I would call perfect matches and most of them were in Davis Cup. I don’t know why but I feel much more comfortable playing Davis Cup than maybe normal tournaments. (You beat Agassi, who else in Davis Cup?) Agassi, Roddick, Pavel in Split, Davydenko, Youzhny, so many good matches. (Why does Davis Cup bring the best out of you?) Maybe the crowd. Because usually I play on small courts in normal tournaments. Could be that.”

  • Hartt · September 23, 2019 at 8:56 am

    He sounds totally charming, and he reads books! It was so great that he managed to win IW, defeating Novak, Rafa and Roddick in the process.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 23, 2019 at 9:08 am

    Hartt, Ljubicic is one of the smartest players of all time, he maximized his talent and became a world force in tennis. Still believe if he had played with more emotional adrenaline and intensity, he would have been no. 1 and won majors. But he played with Berdych Gasquet level intensity. Just wasn’t in his make up and nature to use emotional adrenaline. The talent and weapons were there. Great career. Speaks intelligently in many languages too. Smartest player I think I ever interviewed.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 23, 2019 at 9:10 am

    Interesting that he says his best results were on big stadiums like Davis Cup. And Indian Wells. He liked the big stadiums more than being out on small outer courts. Though I saw him lose 63 63 63 to Lopez on Armstrong once. Lopez played perfect that afternoon at US Open. Ljubicic was one of the best parts of my Facing Nadal book, he had some wars with Nadal. He wasn’t afraid to talk about Nadal’s incessant stall tactics either, which he believes are by design to throw off the rhythm of the big hitters.

  • Hartt · September 23, 2019 at 9:30 am

    Plus, he, along with Piatti, was a great coach for Milos. I understand why he wanted to coach Fed, but was sad when he left Milos’ team.

  • jackson · September 24, 2019 at 1:36 am

    Ljubicic has whined and bitched about Rafa for years. He’s just embarrassed that he got beat by a teenager several times in big tournies. Ljubicic has spread some really stupid rumours around about Rafa. It’s no secret that there’s no love lost between the two of them.

    Rafa’s a non-partisan staller. Big hitters, small hitters, regular hitters; doesn’t matter. Rafa has his routines to go through regardless of who’s on the other side of the net. Ljubicic didn’t get any special treatment.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 24, 2019 at 8:59 am

    Ljubicic simply explained in detail how Nadal’s stalling effects big hitters. He said at 30-all at 4-4, the big hitters are thrown off by the stalling and will miss the lines by an inch or two. He also said the stalling starts even before the match. I say it’s a sign of intelligence by Ljubicic to realize the scheme but even more intelligent by Nadal to find the rules loopholes and to legally stall the opponents and break their normal match rhythm. All great players have their methods.

  • Andrew Miller · September 28, 2019 at 5:35 pm

    If Nadal can collect himself with extra time, why not his opponents. I think Medvedev was or is close to cracking the case. He has the hot/cold turn up the heat, turn it down way of playing. In the past players like that have driven stars batty.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 28, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    Andrew, it’s about slowing down the match rhythm, to control it and force the opponent to play at your rhythm. Some like to play fast, some even faster. Nadal plays the slowest of all and forces everyone to wait for him. It’s subconscious psyche warfare and he wins that battle. He’s a super tough player with just his talent and fighting spirit and physicality. The slow down routine makes him even tougher and more challenging to play and beat.

  • Andrew Miller · September 28, 2019 at 10:29 pm

    Scoop, Nadal’s tactic works. That opponents haven’t used it to sharpen their own tricks is disappointing.

  • Andrew Miller · September 28, 2019 at 10:31 pm

    Ljuby likes a payday. It would have been better for him to finish up with Raonic.



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