Croatia's Davis Cup triumph has tennis rackets
"flying" out of the sports stores
Ljubicic willing to captain Croatia's Davis Cup team
Jan. 18, 2006
CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Croatia's Davis Cup triumph has tennis rackets "flying" out of the sports stores, and increased the focus on who should get the job of leading the country's title defense.
Ivan Ljubicic, who has agreed to be player-captain for the Feb. 10-12 match in Graz, Austria, says that 2001 Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic will meet Saturday with the Croatian Tennis Federation about the issue.
"We wait for Goran's decision, what he wants to do," Ljubicic said Wednesday after advancing to the third round of the Australian Open with a 7-5, 6-2, 6-1 win over Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.
"So, we'll see what his ideas are about it. But, yeah, I am at the moment the playing captain."
Radimir Cacic, the head of the federation, announced on Monday that Ljubicic, who helped Croatia win the Davis Cup for the first time last month, was stepping up after last year's leader Nikki Pilic and Ivanisevic refused the job. Ivanisevic said in December he would take over as captain, but when the Croatian federation asked Pilic to stay on as an adviser, Ivanisevic reportedly said he did not want to take over the team until Pilic was no longer part of it. "If Goran decided not to take the team over for the first round, I am ready to do it," Ljubicic said Wednesday, adding he had already taken some preparatory steps. "I called some people who I am interested in as being like assistants to me," he said. Mario Ancic, who teamed with Ljubicic to lead Croatia's victory over Slovakia in December's final, said he was unfazed by the issue.
"I think the most important thing is to keep this team spirit - and I think we all have that - and a willingness to win," said Ancic, who also moved into the third round in Melbourne on Wednesday by beating Jan Hernych of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.
Despite the uncertainty, both Ljubicic and Ancic are in no doubt about the effect the win has had in their homeland.
"A lot of people are buying rackets and starting to play, like when Goran won Wimbledon and was top" said Ancic.
"I have some friends who are owning shops and they say the rackets are flying (out), they are selling really good," said Ljubicic. "I hope it's going to have a good impact and I hope a lot of kids are going to start playing tennis."