BRATISLAVA, Slovakia -- Goran Ivanisevic was only half joking when he said on Wednesday he was ready to play in the Davis Cup final between Croatia and Slovakia which starts on Friday.
The 34-year-old former Wimbledon champion last played for
Croatia in 2003 and has since retired from the ATP Tour because of nagging shoulder injuries. But he was named by captain Niki
Pilic as fourth player for the historic final.
With world No. 9 Ivan Ljubicic and Mario Ancic
expected to play all four singles and Saturday's doubles,
Ivanisevic's role is most likely to be as an inspirational
cheerleader in the Sibamac Arena.
The way he struck the ball in practice on Wednesday,
however, suggested he would not be out of his depth if injuries
or fatigue forced Pilic to change his plans.
"I feel good, I'm playing very good tennis. I don't know
when the last time was that I played this well," said
Ivanisevic, who has appeared in a record 26 Davis Cup ties for
Croatia and compiled an excellent 48-15 win-loss record.
"I don't even have pain in my shoulder so I'm happy. I'm
ready, otherwise I would not be the fourth member of the team,"
he told reporters.
"The last two months I've practiced two hours a day, been to
the gym, done lots of running," said Ivanisevic, who is ranked
No. 1 on the Seniors Tour.
"I'm in really good shape but I'll be pleased when the Davis
Cup is over though because I can't practice any more. It will
all be over in a couple of days."
Ivanisevic won two bronze medals at
the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, was three times a Wimbledon
runner-up and finally clinched an emotional grand slam title at
the All-England Club in 2001.
He would like nothing more than to complete his colorful
scrapbook by helping Croatia win the Davis Cup for the first
"It would be historic for our country, we are a very small
nation," he said.
"It's good that two small countries, two close countries,
are in the final, it's good for the game."
Any idea the two Slavic nations will be on friendly terms
later this week were quickly knocked back.
"There will be no friends out there from Friday, this is the
Davis Cup final and both countries are desperate to win it,"