'Second Goran' scores first major upset

Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2002

WIMBLEDON, England -- Even if defending champion Goran Ivanisevic isn't at Wimbledon, his considerable spirit is alive and well in the form of another lanky Croatian: Mario Ancic.

Think of the 18-year-old qualifier as Goran without the goatee -- or the self-diagnosed multiple personalities.

Making his Grand Slam debut, the 154th-ranked Ancic produced the tournament's first major upset by dominating No. 7-seeded Roger Federer 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-3 Tuesday on Centre Court.

In his Centre Court debut last year, Federer upset seven-time champion Pete Sampras in the fourth round.

Ancic looks like, talks like and sometimes plays like Ivanisevic, who's home in Croatia after shoulder surgery.

''Goran is Goran, not me. I just knew him for a long time,'' said Ancic, whose English syntax mirrors that of his mentor. ''We are not too much difference, with our temperament.''

Just 15 minutes later over on Court 18, another Wimbledon newcomer finished knocking off a top player: 71st-ranked Brazilian Flavio Saretta got by Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson 6-7 (2), 6-4, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 12-10.

Johansson, seeded eighth, lost in the second round of the French Open, and it's increasingly looking as though his first Grand Slam title in 25 tries will be his last.

Other seeded losers were No. 13 Younes El Aynaoui, No. 20 Tommy Robredo, No. 15 Anna Smashnova, and No. 28 Paola Suarez, who was beaten by Jill Craybas of the United States. There were also impressive first-round showings by leading players, including No. 1-seeded Venus Williams and Lleyton Hewitt, along with Monica Seles and Tim Henman.

Williams, trying to be the first woman to win three straight Wimbledons since Steffi Graf in 1991-93, dismissed British wild-card entry Jane O'Donoghue 6-1, 6-1. Sister Serena, who plays her second-round match Wednesday, watched from a box alongside heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis.

U.S. Open champion Hewitt constructed a 6-4, 7-5, 6-1 beating of Jonas Bjorkman, who complained Centre Court played too slowly. Hewitt was quickly installed as the new betting favorite, overtaking Henman despite the Englishman's easy 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 win over Jean-Francois Bachelot.

Seles had the shortest work day of anyone, 37 minutes, dropping only 15 points while smothering Eva Bes of Spain 6-0, 6-0.

The Belgian Brigade of No. 6 Justine Henin, last year's runner-up, and No. 5 Kim Clijsters, a 2001 French Open finalist, also advanced, both beating Americans. Henin had more trouble, needing three sets to eliminate Brie Rippner, while Clijsters stopped Samantha Reeves 6-2, 7-6 (5).

BBC-TV commentator Pam Shriver summed up the Williams-O'Donoghue match this way: ''David vs. Goliath in skirts.''

Truth is, the 344th-ranked O'Donoghue, playing her first career tour-level match, didn't have a fighting chance against the winner of both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open the last two years.

When Williams' first serve was on, it was untouchable.

She won 20 of 21 points on her serve in the first set, and overall she lost just one point when her first serve went in. A couple of times, O'Donoghue ducked to avoid serves near 120 mph.

''Maybe it was a little tough for her to return the serve because of the surface and the speed,'' Williams said. ''It also might be a thing of experience. She's probably not played a player like me before.''

Williams strolled on court with a stern game face she retained even while tying her shoelaces. Indeed, she didn't crack a smile until she twirled and waved after the match ended.

''I was all business,'' she said. ''I wasn't thinking about nostalgia or anything at all, except hitting the ball well.''

Like Ivanisevic, Ancic is from the Adriatic coast town of Split. They began hitting together when Ancic was 10, were Davis Cup teammates, and played doubles at the Sydney Olympics.

''He was always good to me,'' said Ancic, who got some tips from Ivanisevic in a phone call Monday. ''Sometimes I felt like he was bigger brother in tournaments, and I know I can always rely on him. Like yesterday when I call him about tactics.''

So, what was the scouting report?

''He told me just, 'He has great forehand, just stay away from him,''' Ancic said.

It certainly worked, before a supportive Centre Court crowd that included Ivanisevic's father, Srdjan.

Ancic, a 2000 Wimbledon boys' finalist, got a chance last week to hit with four-time major champion Jim Courier and has worked with Ivanisevic's former coach, Bob Brett, for four years.

Ancic credited Brett with toning down his temper by making him do push-ups when he spoke out in practice.

Ivanisevic, of course, is one of tennis' great characters, on and off the court.

Last year, when he wasn't kicking the net, throwing a racket or smacking one of his record 216 aces en route to winning his first major title -- as Wimbledon's first wild-card champion, no less -- Ivanisevic spent plenty of time discussing his three-headed persona: ''Crazy Goran, Good Goran and Emergency Goran.''

At 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, with arms nearly as thin as his racket's handle, the right-handed Ancic bears a physical resemblance to a younger Ivanisevic, who's a lefty.

Close your eyes as Ancic speaks and you hear Ivanisevic: same speech patterns, timbre and sense of humor.

Still, Ancic -- the youngest player left in the draw -- is wary of such comparisons.

''Everybody know that I'm different person. It was all the time since I grew up, they were talking that I am 'Second Goran,''' he said. ''No, he's unique.''

Notes: Ancic is the first teen to win on Centre Court in his Wimbledon debut since 17-year-old Bjorn Borg in 1973. ... 1989 French Open champion Michael Chang won for just the third time in his last nine Grand Slam matches, defeating Lars Burgsmuller of Germany 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-4.



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