They call it monkey business Despite a 'great tournament,' Ivanisevic loses battle of words

July 06, 1992|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

WIMBLEDON, England -- Goran Ivanisevic has the same attitude about losing yesterday's Wimbledon as he does with a missed serve: Next time, the ball might go in. Next time, Ivanisevic might win a Grand Slam final.

The difference between victory for Andre Agassi and defeat for Ivanisevic was tiny. A couple of more aces, a couple of more volleys, and the media would be trying to find out as much as it could about the 20-year-old Croat.

"It's nice," Ivanisevic said after his debut in a Grand Slam final ended with Agassi winning, 6-7 (8-10), 6-4, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4. "I had a really great tournament. When I came here, I didn't expect I was going to have such a great tournament."

He may have had a great tournament, but his frustration during yesterday's match was evident during an exchange with an umpire. Early in the match, Ivanisevic called chair umpire John Frame a name in Serbo-Croatian.

As play continued, a television viewer called the All England Club to tell officials what Ivanisevic had said. The message was relayed to Frame, who warned Ivanisevic to keep his mouth shut or risk a penalty point.

"Somebody called," Ivanisevic said. "Somebody called from Yugoslavia, probably some Serb, so he told me. I said, 'You don't understand. Nobody understands.' He said, 'Yes, because those people understand.' Then I explained I am Croat, he is Serb, so he hates me, so sure he's going to call."

Asked if he called Frame "a monkey," Ivanisevic said: "Probably. I don't know. I told him something. I don't know if it was monkey. I called him some animal, but I don't know which one. But a nice one, not a bad one."

A semifinalist here in 1989, Ivanisevic had chances to put Agassi away midway through the fourth set. After Agassi escaped from deuce point four times at 3-3 in the final set, things started to go against Ivanisevic.

The match ended when Ivanisevic put himself in a hole by double-faulting on the first two points of the 10th game, with Agassi ahead 5-4. After giving Agassi another second serve, which he returned, Ivanisevic couldn't convert on a forehand volley.

"Nothing," Ivanisevic said, when asked what happened. "I just came there. I don't know what happened. I just missed it. I mean I was sure I was going to put it in, but I saw it go into the net. He was down on the floor, and I was still standing."

The ending spoiled another spectacular day of serving by Ivanisevic, who ran his Wimbledon ace total to 206 with 37 against Agassi. It is believed to be the most in a professional tournament.

Ivanisevic said he thought he had lost the match in the second and third sets, when he failed to attack Agassi's serve. He said that it seemed more like a practice session, with Agassi acting as coach.

"I was standing too much back," he said. "I didn't do anything. He was training me -- left, right and running. I didn't do anything. So I said, 'You have to do something.' "

Ivanisevic, who has criticized Monica Seles, a Serb, for not speaking out on the Yugoslav civil war, said that he was proud for Croatia and for the children playing tennis there.

One thing Ivanisevic is happy about was leaving London. He has been eating the same food since the tournament began -- fish soup, orange juice, lamb, french fries, vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce -- because he is, as he put it, "suspicious." He meant superstitious.

"This is the last day of that food," he said. "The guys in the restaurant were looking at me like I'm crazy."

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