Ljubicic Reflects On Respected Career On & Off The Court
Ivan Ljubicic played his last professional tennis match on Sunday with defeat to fellow Croatian Ivan Dodig at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. The 33-year-old Monte-Carlo resident called time on his 15-year career having played 725 matches (429-296 record) and won 10 ATP World Tour titles.
"I have to say that I felt like it could end up emotional, but I didn't expect it to be this emotional," confessed the Croatian. "Obviously, it's the end of something beautiful for me. Now it's time to do something else. I would love to help this sport to be even better in some way.
"I think this club, this tournament, is a special place. I think the big tennis started for me here in 1999, qualifying, beating [Andrei] Medvedev and [Yevgeny] Kafelnikov. In a way, to wrap it up and finish off here, where I live and where I will stay even after my career, I think it was the right move and the right place to do that."
During his illustrious career, Ljubicic was a beacon for Croatian tennis, leading his country to its first Davis Cup title in 2005 (d. Slovak Republic) and winning a bronze medal in the doubles with Mario Ancic at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
He reached a career-high World No. 3 in May 2006, a year when he reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open (l. to Baghdatis) and the semi-finals at Roland Garros (l. to Nadal), and also enjoyed success at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, winning the 2010 Indian Wells title (d. Roddick) and finishing runner-up at Paris and Madrid in 2005 and Miami in 2006.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic said, "Ivan is one of my biggest friends on the tour, and private life as well. He’s been a person that gave me really good advice when I was starting to play professional tennis. I practised with him and with the same coach, Ricardo Piatti. I was 17.
"It was strange for me to see him playing here his last tournament, his last match. Obviously he has done a lot for the sport. He has won a Davis Cup, he has won in Indian Wells and been in finals in many big events. He’s been No. 3 of the world, so he’s had a long career, but obviously he reached the point where he didn’t want to go anymore and just wanted to stop. Tennis will miss him for sure."
"I think there are four things which I'm most proud of," said Ljubicic. "The Olympic medal in Athens, Davis Cup in 2005, of course, the No. 3 ranking, and the Indian Wells title. But also the fact that I played the [Barclays ATP World Tour] Finals twice in a row (in 2005-2006), which kind of for me was special. I felt also very proud of that.
"And, of course, representation off the court, it's something that really made me proud, as well," added the right-hander, who served as Vice President and President on the ATP Player Council during his career and was the European player representative on the ATP Board of Directors from August 2008 until January 2009. "Really to feel also now walking into the locker room, all the guys standing and clapping, it's something beautiful to see how guys respected me and the way I represented them for many, many years."
He concluded by saying, "I think I did a lot more than I personally expected. I guess even the people around me didn't expect for me to reach [so high]. But I'm happy that I did. I absolutely have no regrets."