Ljubicic Craps out for Croatia
by Sean Randall | February 14th, 2007, 2:49 pm

Hope you all had a better weekend than Ivan Ljubicic – probably not that hard. The crappy Croat laid an egg losing the final six sets he played to cement Croatia’s first round loss in Davis Cup to Germany.

To add to it, going into the tie Looby announced he was retiring from Davis Cup. Well, Looby, at least you went out on top. How does that feel? Good riddance.

And that’s the last time I pick him or his country to do anything that matters on a big stage ever again (yeah, i’m bitter!). I figured after when Looby won the Cup for his country in 2005 his game would elevate. I guess it peaked after his first career Slam semi at the French last year, but it’s been all downhill since. ADHEREL

So Looby you can keep putting up big results at your Dohas, Zagrebs and Viennas, and keep going deep into Masters Series events, but I’m done with thinking your ever going to produce at a Slam (again). Sorry.

And on the subject of posting big time, how about Igor Andreev? Guess you now know why Maria Kirilenko hangs with Igor. Andreev and his Russian crew went down to Chile – where no one wants to go play D-Cup – and stole one from Fernando Gonzalez and Nic Massu.

Marat Safin played well scoring a straight-set opening win over Massu, but then Andreev pulled the shocker winning in four over Gonzo. Chile got on the board with a doubles win Saturday then tied matters when Gonzo regrouped to beat Safin in straights, setting the stage for a fifth and final rubber in which Andreev stepped up huge defeating Massu in four sets. Very impressive for the young kid who’s coming back from serious injury last year.

And you have to love Marat who addressed the crazy Chilean fans afterward saying, “There’s no need to insult people when they’re playing. There’s no need to shout between points. We’re here to compete, and nothing more. We’re not here to rob the Chileans of their land.” That’s too good.

A guy tabbed by some as “Baby Marat” still has some work to do. That is of course Tomas Berdych. The big Czech will hopefully live up to his nickname rather than choose the path of say…Ivan Ljubicic. Berdych has long been pegged a serious threat on the tour ever since he beat Rog Fed at the Olympics back in 2004. But he’s shown little of that flair on the big stage sporting zero wins in five tries in Slam fourth round matches. I think he’ll get over that hump – I hope he will – but it’s going to take some work.

This past weekend when his Czech team played against the U.S., Berdych pulled out a strong win over James Blake on day one, but then gave it up to Andy Roddick in the fourth and ultimate clinching tie. I don’t blame Berydch for the Czech loss – I don’t think they would have won that fifth rubber unless they played Lendl – but he’s got to take out Roddick in that match. On clay, at home, in your own arena, you are up a set, you have to beat Roddick. I know Andy’s playing better now, but you beat him last year and you simply have to finish him off. But it didn’t happen. Give credit to Roddick for showing his toughness on dirt and again for his knack of rising to the occasion – he’s 8-0 in clinching Davis Cup rubbers.

For Berdych, like Ljubicic in some ways, you have to wonder when this guy is going to breakthrough that that big win.

The results over the weekend certainly set up some great round two clashes. France at Russia should be a good one with a lot of questions for the home team like where does new hero Andreev fit in with Davydenko, Safin and Tursunov?

The U.S. hosts Spain, who may or may not be with the oft-injured Rafael Nadal. If Nadal posts and Tommy Robredo’s in good form, Spain could certainly upset the U.S. especially since the Americans chose hard court as their surface. Hard court? Wasn’t there a grass court available somewhere in the country? If I’m the USTA, I’m building that thing right now. But I guess the brass figured hard court gave them the best shot. Whatever. Good luck to ya…

Sweden also meets Argentina, who with Guillermo Canas back and the emergence of Juan Martin del Potro, could wind up in the final or winning the title. And Germany could face a tricky test visiting Belgium.

Should be fun. Less than two months away. Can’t wait.

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20 Comments for Ljubicic Craps out for Croatia

Andrija Says:

Watch what you publish about Croatia and her sportsmen. We are a small country with only 4,5 milion inhabitants and we have a rich sports history. So Sean BEHAVE and show some RESPECT you ignorant litle man

Bo Says:

Ljubo is not doing great these days, but I wouldn’t write him off yet. He needs to face the fact that he is not doing great and maybe change the coach. He cannot play so great and consistent 3 years in a row, week after week. Every major player (besides Mr. Fed so far)has had a mini crisis (Hewitt, Roddick, Andre, Goran), but I don’t like the fact that Ljubo is making all the excuses after he loses (“the ball was bouncing too low, the court was uneven in the davis cup…”). He is a great player suffering the 1st little crisis since his spectacular arrival in the top 5 in 2005, and sooner he faces the music, maybe changes the coach, does whatever it takes to get his confidence back, sooner he will be back on the top.

baselinehack Says:

berdych’s game looks nothing like Safin’s what are you smoking?
baby safin my ass…..

JCF Says:

That is some nasty piece you wrote there Sean. He may have underperformed, but ‘crappy’ isn’t a word you here much in professional journalism.

Did you lose a bet?

RodFan Says:

Poor Roddick! Damn if he wins, damn if you looses.
Didn’t you just trashed Roddick for his loss to Federer in AO? And now when the guy rose to the challenge and won 2 of his matches in Davis Cup you have a nerve to say that Berdych should have taken him out? Unbeleivable! You’re such an anti-american jerk! You should stay away from commenting on tennis!

funches Says:

Maybe, just maybe, the U.S. chose hard courts against Spain because they are by far Blake’s best surface and Roddick is really good on them, too.

Are you tennis deaf? How hard is that to understand? Blake on grass is a shaky proposition, as he proved in his Wimbledon melt-down against Mirnyi. Blake owns Nadal on hard courts.

joy dilks Says:

they are all good players, but remember no one will renain the winner forever.


Jo Says:

You said, “…you simply have to finish him off.” Dude, the guy’s not even close to the ‘finish’ line.

Sean Randall Says:

Baselinehack, I never came up with the nickname “Baby Marat”, but I’ve seem it used on this site and I’ve heard it used by a few TV commentators, so I didn’t make it up. That said, I kind of agree with it. His size, service motion, ground strokes are a bit Marat-like.

JCF, basically. I picked Croatia to win the Davis Cup this year. Talk about a crappy pick!

RodFan, I get where you are coming from but I didn’t bash Roddick. I gave him credit but I just felt in that situation Berdych had to win that match. If roles were reversed and that tie was played in the U.S. I would have said it was Roddick who had to win that match. I am amazed by Andy and his achievements. He’s a Hall of Famer, Grand Slam champ and a former year-end No. 1. The guy is simply clutch.

Funches, you are 100% correct in your assessment that Blake’s best surface is hard. That’s not my issue. My issue is with Roddick. On grass, he’s unbeatable. He’d take out Nadal, Robredo or whomever Spain could throw at him – Verdasco, Moya. But on hard court, things get shaky. I’m not so sure he gets those wins.

As for Blake. He owns Nadal on hard, but he lost to Robredo last year at the Australian Open – Tommy played a great match that day – and again at the Masters Cup last fall (Blake did beat him at Indian Wells). On grass I think he could lose to Nadal but I think he beats Robredo for sure. Tommy has just two wins at Wimbledon in the last three years. Grass is not his surface.

Basically, in my mind playing on grass assures the U.S. of three wins in singles: Roddick d. Nadal, Roddick d. Robredo and Blake d. Robredo. But by playing on hard card I don’t think the U.S. gets those wins as easily or if at all. And by early April the Spaniards should be grooved to the U.S. hard courts anyway after playing Indian Wells/Miami.

So if you want to talk about people being “tennis deaf” then talk about the USTA brass who made that decision. Could come back to haunt them.

jonakaa Says:

hey didntcha all know? sean randall smokes the rod-DICK! he is the worst tennis blogger ever. He should be fired for writing such an unprofessional headline

Jose Says:

Did Ivan steal your girlfriend or something?

John Says:

re: Marat

I’m trying to make some sense out of the SAP Open TV schedule on TTC.



My best guess on TTC (using PST):

QF Friday 12/16 3:30pm live
QF Friday 12/16 6pm live
QF Friday 12/16 10pm live

SF Saturday 12/17 12:30am live (should be 12:30pm)
SF Saturday 12/17 7pm delay (should be live)

F Sunday 12/18 9pm delay (live at 6pm)

?? Monday 12/19 12pm delay (very long delay)

?? Tuesday 12/20 12pm delay (very long delay)

My guess on who will be playing:

QF Roddick/Spadea, Murray/Lee, Safin/Becker, Blake/Fish

SF Roddick/Murray, Safin/Blake

F Roddick/Safin

JaLesser Says:

I think that most responses to your article are right on track; the article takes an extremely shallow, immature view of Ivan Ljubicic and professional tennis. While it is true that Ljubicic is not playing his best tennis right now (first round loss to Mahut at Marseille following the Davis Cup), you cannot take credit away from Tommy Haas. Haas made the semifinals of the Australian Open and has been playing tremendous tennis. He played fantasically in the Davis Cup, as well.
Meanwhile, there is absolutely NO evidence whatsoever that Ljubicic falters on the big stage, at least in team competitions. He has been one of the greatest Davis Cup players of ALL TIME in the past few years, rarely losing a match. In Croatia’s run to the finals, he lost only one match (against Hrbaty).
Ivan Ljubicic will come back to prove you wrong. It was merely unfortunate that Ivan’s poor play has coincided with the first round of the Davis Cup. He will rebound; just wait and see.

sideline Says:

Tennis-x kind of, like, sucks now. Too many re-hashed quotes from Bodo and articles like this.

Very sad.

allcourt Says:

I think that the fact that the tie takes place in April also made them go for an indoor surface and site. I’ve seen many American SPRING outdoor events ruined by unexpected cold and/or heavy rains in states like North Carolina (where the tie is being held) and even in Florida and Texas.

JCF Says:

“Are you tennis deaf? How hard is that to understand? Blake on grass is a shaky proposition, as he proved in his Wimbledon melt-down against Mirnyi. Blake owns Nadal on hard courts.”

Blake made a final on grass last year as a warmup (I think it was Queen’s club) and lost to Hewitt, who is no slouch himself on the green stuff.

Sean Randall Says:

John, sounds like if you are lucky enough to get the Tennis Channel – I don’t! – you got a full day of live tennis Friday from San Jose starting at 3:30 ET with Fish v. Becker, followed by Becker v. Safin. Then in the evening live coverage of Roddick v. Spadea (10pm ET) followed by Murray v. Lee. Basically they are just showing the full day from San Jose. You can disregard the times as coverage starts 330pm ET, assuming that’s the schedule.

JaLesser, I agree, Haas deserves some love. But in my mind Ljubicic has to win at least one of those last six sets he played. If he’s the top player that he is, he at least makes it somewhat interesting. Hell, from what I can tell in the last six sets Ljubicic played in what turned out to be his final Davis Cup tie, he had exactly ZERO break point opportunities. Sure the Germans played well, but…

Sure, Ljubicic has been an outstanding player for Croatia. Great win in 2005. Very impressive. However, now that he’s retired from Davis Cup where’s his next big win going to come? In Dubai? In Vienna? In Rotterdam? Because it’s probably not coming in a Slam.

baselinehack Says:

sideline quote: “Tennis-x kind of, like, sucks now. Too many re-hashed quotes from Bodo and articles like this. Very sad.”

I agree. this Sean guy is repulsively stupid and immature. Tennis-x has gone downhill seriously.

John Says:

re: TTC and the SAP Open

I didn’t guess The TC lineup correctly.

The TC did show the QFs (including Safin/Becker and Roddick/Spadea matches).

But they didn’t show the SF, nor did they show the Final. Instead they showed Doubles multiple times! Bummer.

John Says:

re: TTC and the SAP Open

Yesterday on TheTC, I taped a replay of the final. I thought Ivo should have won. Good match.

ESPN was involved in the broadcast but I have no clue when or where they showed any of these matches. Anyone know?

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