Tennis: Wimbledon '94 / Ivanisevic pulls the trigger in the big serve shoot-out

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The Independent Online
IT WOULD be hard to argue that Guy Forget is ill named. Every so often he pops up at Wimbledon and upsets the nation by walloping Jeremy Bates, but the

attention is not what you would describe as lasting. Back he goes to relative obscurity and lies in wait for the next opportunity to beat a Brit. Forgotten.

It was the same yesterday. Having given 'our Jezza' a dusting on Centre Court on Monday he reappeared before the Royal Box and promptly sank without trace against Goran Ivanisevic. All guns blazing, of course, except it was his opponent who had the finger on the trigger instead of the 29- year-old Frenchman.

The result was 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 but the match, after a fluctuating first set, was easier than the scoreline would suggest even though Ivanisevic used the word 'tough' four times in his first few sentences afterwards. It was also a lot less exciting than it implied.

Big serves are fine in moderation but yesterday's quarter-final was overwhelmed by them. Forget served 19 aces while his opponent thumped down a staggering 29. In short, if the opening shot went in it usually reaped the point as Ivanisevic proved with yields of 83, 96 and 100 per cent from his first serve in the three sets. In among this heavy artillery was one particularly venomous shell of a ball that hurtled past the IBM speedometer at 136mph, the fastest ever

recorded on Centre Court.

'I know it's a little boring,' Ivanisevic, who has accrued 118 aces during the championships, said when he was broached on the subject of service superiority, 'Me and Forget, we hit so many aces. But I don't care actually. I'm here to win, not to make people happy.' At pounds 39 a seat on Centre Court, yesterday, perhaps he ought to care.

At the start it was the fourth-seeded Croat who was distinctly unhappy. At the best of times Ivanisevic appears to be a bad call away from a thunderous glare and yesterday he looked as if he, rather than the spectators, had suffered the trial of reaching SW19 without trains.

Forget has recovered from a knee injury that kept him out of the game for nearly a year and has pushed his ranking to over 1,000 and at first he played with an abandon of a man who has everything to gain and little to lose. Ivanisevic was 4-2 down and struggling - 'I didn't see too many balls. It was just walking left, right, left, right.' - but he broke back in the eighth game and then rode his luck in the tie- breaks.

'They are tough,' Ivenisevic said. 'It's like a penalty shoot-out. It doesn't matter that I have a great serve, nobody is going to guarantee you're going to put it in. It's just a lottery, who is going to miss the first serve and who is going to be the luckier.'

Once he was two sets ahead, however, he believed another break would follow and he manhandled Forget off court with three crushing passing shots.

Ivanisevic now meets Boris Becker with an opportunity to emulate his final appearance of two years ago. 'I'm playing better now than then,' he said.

Forget, meanwhile, was left to continue his climb up the rankings. 'Could you say he played better, or you played slightly below par?' he was asked afterwards and after pointing to two or three points that might have turned the match he turned for more queries.

Silence.

'Any more questions in English?' an All England Club offical asked.

No.

(Photograph omitted)

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