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(E) Fans sold on young Croatian
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  07/5/2002 | Sports | Unrated
(E) Fans sold on young Croatian

 

MARIO ANCIC


Goran once, Goran twice: Fans sold on young Croatian 

By Howard Fendrich
The Associated Press


Op-ed

I am putting this news again, because I want to emphasize howdeep and far goes one Wimbledon victory. How important is our presence in theworld. We are amazing as individuals. Now we have to connect horizontally. Knoweach other.

Nenad Bach

DAVE CAULKIN / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS 
Mario Ancic of Croatia relishes the moment as he defeats Switzerland’s Roger Federer 6-3, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 in their first-round match at Wimbledon. Federer was seeded seventh in the men’s draw. 


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 (7-2), 6-3 yesterday 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 is 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 (7-2), 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 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 consecutive 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 today, watched from a box alongside heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis. 

"I just met him today," Venus said. 

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 (7-5). 

Ancic, like Ivanisevic, 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 crowd that included Ivanisevic's father, Srdjan. 

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

The right-handed Ancic, 6 feet 4 and 180 pounds, bears a physical resemblance to a younger Ivanisevic, who's a lefty. 

Still, Ancic 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." 

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/sports/134482048_wimbledon26.html 

Copyright © 2002 The Seattle Times Company 

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