What names spring to your mind when you think about Wimbledon Champions? Let’s say from last 15 years?
When I think about it, the first name is not the 2008 Champion. It doesn’t even start with the letter R.
Looking at Wimbledon statistics, between the domination of Sampras and Federer, there is a name that reminds me of never giving up on your dreams.
In 2001 Goran Ivanišević won the title, defeating Australian Patrick Rafter in five sets.
You probably say "big deal." I know someone who did it five times. So what is so special about it?
Stepping on to the Wimbledon grass, Goran was ranked the World No. 125. He was 30-years-old (in tennis it means mid-life), had endured a long battle with a shoulder injury, and was nearing the end of his career.
His ranking position was not sufficient to earn him a wildcard, however his three runner-ups did the trick.
He didn’t win a singles title for three years, and with players like Federer, Sampras, and Agassi in the hunt for the Wimbledon trophy, nobody was giving Goran a chance.
After beating Moya, Roddick, Safin, and Henman on his way to the final, he stood on Centre Court opposite Pat in front of 14,000 people.
Coming to his fourth Wimbledon final, he “didn’t want to have this plate again,” meaning the runner-up trophy.
Rafter, younger and with two Grand Slam titles already under his belt, seemed to have easy access to the Wimbledon trophy.
The players delivered a wonderful five set battle. After almost exactly three hours, Rafter netted a forehand return to end one of the best Grand Slam finals of all time.
Poor Patrick was probably sick of making history, having been responsible for Sampras winning his 13th title.
Ivanišević fell on to the grass, becoming the first wildcard entry and the lowest ranked player to win Wimbledon.
The audience went crazy, crying and screaming his name. The knew that they had just witnessed a real story with a happy ending.
He was known for his attacking style of play, an extremely powerful serve, and his on-court outbursts. He holds the record for most aces served in a year with 1477 in 1996.
Asked about breaking the rackets, he said: “Today's players, they do not know how. If you are going to throw it, you break it. You have to show commitment”.
The quote was remembered, at least by Marat Safin.
Goran was left-handed, and in 2007 he practiced with Federer before his final with you know who.
Holding the Wimbledon winner's trophy (instead of the runner-up's plate), he said: "This was my dream all my life. I came here and nobody thought about me, but here I am holding the trophy."
After that, he said that he doesn’t care if ever plays again, and unfortunately God listened to him. This was his last career title. He retired later, after surgery on his left shoulder.
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