Diary of a giant-killer: It turned out to be a perfect day, and Goran was one of the first to ring

Mario Ancic

Sunday 20 June: I arrive in London with my coach, my brother and my sister, who is in the junior draw. We are staying at the Chelsea Village Hotel. I am feeling tired because I have just played a tough semi-final in Rosmalen, so I watch Spain go out of the Euro 2004 in Portugal and get an early night. I am really looking forward to tomorrow.

Monday 21 June: The first day of Wimbledon is always very exciting because you know all tennis eyes will be here for two weeks. I pick up a schedule and then go back to my hotel as early as possible because Croatia play in a must-win match against England at Euro 2004. After dinner, I settle down in front of the TV with my coach, Rohan Goetzke. Croatia play well, but are not quite good enough to beat a really good England team. We lack individual talents like Wayne Rooney, who is a brilliant sportsman. We are out of the Euro, but at least I'm still in the Championships.

Tuesday 22 June: I'd found out earlier that my first-round opponent, David Nalbandian, had had to pull out. It was a stroke of luck, because I felt I had been handed a shitty draw. I now face Luis Horna of Peru, who I should be able to beat. I do, but only after losing the first set. I get it together in the end and win 6-7 6-4 6-3 6-4, but it just goes to show that there are no gimmes in Grand Slams. My performance is not great, but it's a good wake-up call, which is just what I need if I am to have an impact this year.

Wednesday 23 June: I just have a light hit on the practice courts at Aorangi because I have been playing a lot of tennis in recent weeks and must not overdo it. That night, we go out to a Greek restaurant near Chelsea Village and then come home to watch Germany crash out of the Euro. Having the football on at the moment is a real treat because it allows me to kill the evenings and take my mind off the tennis.

Thursday 24 June: Days like this are a complete nightmare. It rains non-stop and, although we are all sure there will be no play, the organisers keep us at the All England Club until 7pm. I have a hit indoors for 30 minutes and then go to have a little cheeky sleep in the locker rooms. Well, there's nothing else to do. In the evening, we pop out for some sushi at Fulham Broadway and then watch England's brilliant quarter-final with Portugal.

Friday 25 June: I finally get to play my second-round match against Julien Benneteau, of France. I don't know whether it is due to the long wait, but I make very hard work of an opponent I should beat comfortably. In the end, I win in five sets, 4-6 7-6 6-2 5-7 6-4, but it's yet another close call. It's time to wake up.

Saturday 26 June: Another wash-out, except that this time I am really grateful for the weather because I wake up not feeling too good. I don't know if it's the cold, but I am quite stiff. It's disappointing for the fans to go home without seeing any tennis, but for me it's a lifesaver. I would lose if I played today. In the evening, it's back to the hotel for the usual ritual of food (this time it's Italian) and then football (Sweden v Holland). Some players prefer being in houses near Wimbledon, but I feel it limits your options too much. In a hotel, you can use the gym, pop out to nearby shops, meet friends in town and, most importantly, have your meals cooked.

Sunday 27 June: I have a hit with Sjeng Schalken in the morning, before playing my third-round match against Slovakia's Dominik Hrbaty. He is a dangerous opponent, but I play really well for the first time in these Championships and win 7-5 6-3 7-5. It feels great. I have never been to the fourth round of Wimbledon, so I am obviously delighted. Goran Ivanisevic, who is my sporting hero and has become a great friend in the past 10 years, calls to congratulate me. He tells me to stay focused because the second week of a Grand Slam is when it gets serious.

Monday 28 June: The schedule is becoming really gruelling now, as this will be my third match in four days. But I get lucky, as Xavier Malisse retires mid-way through the second set, after I had won the first 7-5. I'm starting to become more confident now and am looking forward to my quarter-final against Tim Henman or Mark Philippoussis.

Tuesday 29 June: It will be Henman tomorrow on Centre, a court I have great memories from since beating Roger Federer there in the first round two years ago. The fact that I will be playing against the English hero does not scare me. I love the "me against all" mentally. It's what Goran thrived on and I am the same.

Wednesday 30 June: It turns out to be the perfect day. I start well against Tim, winning the tight first set and then take the next two quite comfortably. This is definitely the greatest win of my career because of the opponent and the setting. I am particularly happy with my mental strength, which is something I have been working on a lot. For some people, it's not easy when you know the whole crowd are against you, but those are the challenges I enjoy. I think Tim has done brilliantly considering the huge pressure he's under, but I was just better on the day. That night, no wild celebrations but a huge number of calls and SMS's. Goran is, of course, one of the first to ring.

Thursday 1 July: A quiet day after the drama of Wednesday. I am aware that I must put the Henman match to one side now because there is an even tougher semi against Andy Roddick to prepare for. I have a massage and a gentle knock. Sleeping is not easy.

Friday 2 July: I was really worried that we were going to have to play on Saturday, so when the referee gave us the option to go to Court One I was delighted. I think it was a very good decision. The rain can be a real pain, but it saved my bacon late in the day because I was being battered by Andy Roddick. As soon as the first drops came down, I ran off the court. That night, I had a good chat with Rohan and decided to be a bit more aggressive. Even though I was down, I went to sleep calm and confident.

Yesterday: I was pumped because I knew that I had a break point straight away and a chance to get back into the match. When I took it and then won the second set, I felt confident. But Andy is tough and he just wouldn't fold, even when I was playing my best. In the end, I feel I played well but he deserved to win. I'm a little sorry, but proud. I will fly back to Split today, but I'll definitely be back here next year. I have every intention of winning Wimbledon.

Interview by Alex Hayes

Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before