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GORAN IVANIŠEVIĆ – The greatest of Wimbledon stories

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Out of all famous Croatian tennis players, one name definitely marked Wimbledon, by far, the top tennis championship. It’s Goran Ivanišević, a former professional tennis player, now coach.
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The holy grail of every tennis player and Ivanišević’ personal Mt. Everest, proved itself as one of the toughest and elusive trophies.

One lost final after another almost killed the career of one of the best tennis players the world has ever seen. No matter how hard did he try, somehow, that shiny cup would slip out of his hands at the very last step of the way. Year after year, since his first Wimbledon finals in 1992, Ivanišević was forced to watch his opponents picking it up.

His ranking along with the tennis career plummeted after the third lost Wimbledon final. The world was certain that he will soon announce his retirement without ever laying his hands on the trophy he so desperately desired.

But God moves in mysterious ways. Sometimes, that way is a wild card.

In 2001, ranked 125th at the time, Ivanišević received a wild card. The destiny smiled at him, opening the door to Wimbledon he thought was closed forever. Kinda like one final chance to give everything he’s got and finally accomplish his ultimate goal.

Aming on Wimbledon
Aming on Wimbledon
“I was hoping that they will give me the wild card,” remembers Ivanišević, “so when they gave me the wild card, I said, okay, I might prove that I deserve it.” And that moment marked the beginning of one of the most exciting tennis tournaments the world has ever seen. Moya, Roddick, Rusedski, Safin, they all ended up defeated, one after another. It felt like this fast-moving train is rushing through the courts, knocking down everyone on its way.

Then came Final Four and Henman. The real test.

Tennis Racket and Balls
Tennis Racket and Balls
For a moment, it felt like the train was about to put to the stop. Ivanišević was two sets behind and it seemed like the history repeats itself when the skies released heavy rain. The match was played over the course of three days; something almost unimaginable to anyone. When Henman’s backhand sent the ball out of bounds, Goran Ivanišević just dropped on the ground. He was in yet another Wimbledon final.

The atmosphere at that final match of the tournament resembled one of the soccer championships.

Wimbledon Throphy
Wimbledon Throphy

The central court was filled to the very last place. People were loudly cheering. There were more flags than ever before.
Two players. One with three previous lost finals and the other who lost to common nemesis, Pete Sampras, the year before. Goran Ivanišević and Patrick Rafter. The clash of two tennis titans and the finals you could only wish for. One never-ending heart attack would be the best way to describe it.

Exactly 3 hours, 2 minutes, and I don’t know how many broken glasses later, the first-ever wild card won Wimbledon.

In the heart-stopping final set, Ivanišević finally won the elusive trophy, engraving his name in Wimbledon’s history forever.
There’s a consensus that 2001 Wimbledon finals, between Ivanišević and Rafter, was, indeed, one of the most dramatic finals in Wimbledon’s history.

But the true heartbreaking moment came when Goran Ivanišević while holding his holy grail, dedicates it to his friend and one of the best basketball players ever. The man whose jersey with number 3 on it is in the NBA’s Hall of Fame. New Jersey Nets’, Dražen Petrović, a.k.a. basketball Mozart. The Croat and European who came, dribbled, shot, and conquered.

But the fate played with Dražen and the entire basketball world in the most horrifying and cruel way.

Your CTC Team, I.K.

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