Sydney, 14 November 2010 | AAP
Big-serving Croat Goran Ivanisevic broke Australian hearts again, beating Pat Rafter in Saturday’s 2001 Wimbledon final re-match at Sydney Olympic Park.
While most of the matches at the inaugural Champions Downunder tournament have been more about entertaining the crowd, there was more at stake in this battle – a chance for Rafter to answer his Wimbledon loss.
The left-handed Croat made history as the only wildcard to ever win Wimbledon when he took out the title in 2001 after three failed attempts in 92, 94 and 98.
And while we as Australians lamented ‘our Pat’s’ loss we couldn’t help but be elated for the man who once said he’d give his left-arm for a Wimbledon trophy.
The charismatic Ivanisevic has won a lot of fans in Australia over the years so a duel with Rafter was always going to draw a crowd.
And the Croat, who has says he’s “serving even bigger now” without the niggling shoulder pain he endured in the past, was out to prove beating Rafter all those years ago wasn’t just a fluke.
Being the Champions Tour however, the match was never going to be all business with Ivanisevic at one stage telling a linesman who foot-faulted him to “relax man, its the seniors tour. You’re killing my mojo.”
But with the match levelled at a set a piece they both lifted the bar for the third set tie-breaker with Ivanisevic finally prevailing 3-6 6-3 10-8.
“I think we played some really ugly tennis for the first two sets, it wasn’t till the tie breaker there that we started playing some good tennis,” Rafter said after the match.
“It was just one of those days… I wasn’t volleying like I wanted to, but that’s the way some matches go.”
But Rafter wasn’t too disappointed as despite losing the match he secured a spot in the final on Sunday after winning his group based on his win/loss record during the round robin stage.
“I won but I’m not even playing for third place tomorrow,” Ivanisevic joked.
“But I beat him again so that’s good.”