Sun, Jun 27, 2004 - Page 23 News List

Roddick, Hewitt, Serena advance

WIMBLEDON CHAMPIONSHIPS Goran Ivanisevic walked off Centre Court for the last time to a standing ovation after losing in straight sets to 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt


Goran Ivanisevic, left, congratulates Lleyton Hewitt at the end of their third round match during the Wimbledon Championships in London, Friday. Hewitt won the match 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 in what was Ivanisevic's last appearance at Wimbledon as a singles player.


The next time Goran Ivanisevic comes back to Wimbledon, he won't be firing aces and ripping his shirt off on Centre Court. He'll be wearing a suit and tie and sipping tea in the members' lounge.

The 32-year-old Croat ended his colorful 15-year career on the same court where he won his only Grand Slam title as an unseeded wild card in 2001, beating Pat Rafter in a dramatic five-set Monday final.

Ivanisevic, who missed Wimbledon the last two years with injuries, walked off Centre Court for the last time to a standing ovation after losing in straight sets Friday to 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia.

"I still don't believe it's over, but I couldn't pick a better place, a better court," he said after the third-round defeat.

Elsewhere, Andy Roddick and two-time defending champion Serena Williams won in straight sets, while French Open champion Anastasia Myskina and men's French Open runner-up Guillermo Coria were both upset. No. 2-seeded Myskina was eliminated 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 by Amy Frazier, while No. 3 Coria lost to Germany's Florian Mayer, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.

Saturday's schedule featured top-seeded defending champion Roger Federer of Switzerland facing Sweden's Thomas Johansson and Williams against Magui Serna of Spain.

Ivanisevic was unable to defend his title in 2002 after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder and withdrew in 2003 after a knee injury. He struggled to get back this year for a 15th and final appearance. Even a one-sided 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 loss didn't dampen the moment.

"It was a victory for me to come here, play two matches and lose to a guy who is a Wimbledon champion," Ivanisevic said. "Everything was perfect -- the weather, the crowd, the court. I just enjoyed myself."

Despite passionate support from the fans, including shouts of ``We love you, Goran!'' he was never able to mount a challenge against the No. 7-seeded Hewitt. After the Australian ripped a forehand winner to end the match, the two players chatted warmly at the net.

"I think he said something like, `You killed me out there today,'" Hewitt said. "I said, `You're a great champion. It's been an honor playing you out here on Centre Court."

The 13,000-capacity crowd gave Ivanisevic a two-minute ovation. He soaked in the applause, saluted the fans and, at one point, took a long look around the arena.

"I focus on every inch of this court," he said. "I have great memories of this court and some bad memories. I lost three finals, but I think the last one was the best one."

Ivanisevic slipped on a No. 10 Croatian soccer shirt, drawing good-natured boos from the English fans, still smarting from their national team's quarterfinal elimination by Portugal in the European Championship. But the cheers returned as Ivanisevic left the court for the last time.

"I'm going to miss everything," he said. "I'm going to miss the guys that I spent so many years with. I'm going to miss serving ace on 15-40, 30-40. I'm going to miss talking to the umpire, sometimes bad, sometimes good. I'm going to miss waiting for the rain to stop."

But he's also looking forward to taking it easy.

"No more painkillers, no more practicing, no more exercising," he said. "I just want to enjoy and be proud of myself, everything I did in the last 15 years."

Ivanisevic, who made his first appearance here in 1988, lost in the finals in 1992 (Andre Agassi), 1994 (Pete Sampras) and 1998 (Sampras). Then, ranked No. 125, he came out of nowhere in 2001 to become the first wild card to win a Grand Slam title.

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