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Nearing the end

Ivanisevic thinking of retirement after loss

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Latest: Tuesday August 29, 2000 06:35 PM

  Goran Ivanisevic Goran Ivanisevic looked flat after taking the first set from Dominik Hrbaty on Tuesday. AP

FLUSHING MEADOWS, New York (Reuters) -- Win or lose, Goran Ivanisevic's matches were usually entertaining and tennis fans delighted in his antics as much as his talent.

The three-time Wimbledon finalist would pepper his power-serving game with risky shot making, outrageous comments and a fiery temper that led to an unfortunate fate for many of his rackets.

But for the past two years, the 28-year-old Ivanisevic says he has lost his competitive edge and the heart to entertain and is grappling with the decision on how long he should continue to play.

"I don't have fun anymore," said Ivanisevic, struggling to come up with his usual one-line quips. "No fun to play, no fun to be here, no fun to practice.

"I cannot even break my racket, you know, make some show for the people."

In earlier years, Ivanisevic would have been furious at himself for losing 18 of the last 19 games in Tuesday's 3-6, 6-0, 6-1, 6-0 first-round loss to Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia at the U.S. Open.

But this time, he just shrugged and accepted his fate without a whimper.

Ivanisevic, who was ranked as high as No. 2 in the world in 1994, has a 12-17 record in 19 tournaments this year. In 11 of the tournaments, including his last four events starting at Wimbledon, he has been a first-round loser.

Scheduled to play in both the singles and doubles at the upcoming Olympics, Ivanisevic said he is debating whether to play at all for the remainder of the year.

He is also confused on what to do about a rotator cuff injury sustained last week at the Long Island tournament. Ivanisevic's options are to have surgery, which includes an eight-month rehabilitation that he is certain will put an end to his desire to play, or to keep playing and hope it does not get worse.

Ivanisevic said his role as Davis Cup captain for Croatia might keep him busy.

"I'm Davis Cup captain now. Maybe I can be that," Ivanisevic said about his future plans.

Ivanisevic is convinced that the reason he has no motivation to play is because he has no cause to play for anymore.

"All my life, I am the guy that I play for something," Ivanisevic said. "When I start my career, my sister was very sick. She had a cancer. I wanted to play for her. Now she's fine.

"Then the war came in Croatia. I play for my country, I was very motivated. Then somehow everything stopped, nothing to play for anymore."

When it was suggested that maybe he could be motivated by just playing for himself, he showed signs of his impish former self, laughing and saying: "I don't like myself sometimes. I don't like to play for myself."

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