Goran Ivanisevic smacks down compatriot and backs Scot to make history

 

Wimbledon

The message flashed on the Court One scoreboard just before play resumed for five minutes in between the rain showers yesterday read: "In hot weather drink water, wear a hat, apply sunscreen." It must have brought a belly laugh to the small crowd who had gathered at that stage of a day when a flask of hot coffee and a sou'wester were more useful, and the sunglasses worn by Andy Murray's coach Ivan Lendl were as out of place as a tub of £2.80 Wimbledon ice cream.

Marin Cilic's coach, the veteran Australian Bob Brett, would probably have wished for a blindfold when he saw some of the errors his man was making in a performance that had little of the resilience he had shown in coming through to win the second-longest match in Wimbledon singles history at the weekend.

Squashed into the little radio commentary box at the other end of the court and on better form than his fellow countryman was Goran Ivanisevic, who has been informally advising him throughout the tournament, and any spectators who had taken a radio and headphones in with them would have had their entertainment greatly enhanced.

There may have been 50 shades of grey in the sky to frustrate Middle England's mums and their companions, but with Ivanisevic – remember "good Goran, bad Goran" ? – there is only black and white. "He started great but then was scared to come in [to the net]," Ivanisevic had lamented. "I told him to come in but he didn't listen. I'm gonna smack him." Cilic, it quickly became clear, is too gentle a giant for his mentor, who was never known for holding back. "Too calm, too safe," Ivanisevic said, exclaiming when Cilic finally attempted to serve and volley: "This is a miracle!"

Once Goran had decided that "Marin" sounded too much like "Murray" in his Croatian accent, he settled for "MC" but was forced to admit that "MC Hammer" was hardly appropriate yesterday. Two sets down, he approached the net almost suspiciously, letting out a rare bellow of frustration for such an undemonstrative man, and then finding himself the victim of a lovely running forehand pass. "MC is out of hope and out of ideas," his countryman confessed.

Good Goran, of course, famously defeated Tim Henman in a Wimbledon semi-final over the course of three rainy days in 2001 after losing the third set 6-0. "God sent the rain" he repeated yesterday, insisting that Murray, Cilic and everyone else seriously contemplating a successful run at the All England Club simply had to deal with it. "First day I went in, I knew I was gonna win," he recalled. "Every time Andy [sic] came back, he played worse and worse."

The opposite applied to Andy/Tim yesterday, growing better and better and convincing Ivanisevic that in this form he can win Grand Slams, including Wimbledon. But not this year. "I think he's gonna be in the final but Djokovic is still gonna win."

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