Goran…

I am guessing you would have heard the name, Goran Ivanisevic by now, in case you had not heard it earlier. Thanks to Wimbledon, and its post in twitter ( link below), a flurry of memories opened floodgates for multiple people who went onto write some words about Goran. Let me start by swearing, I am not one of them as for me, Goran was merely a trivia question whose answer I remembered- Only wild card entry to win Wimbledon. It is only last week after seeing those posts on Facebook; I decided to study about Goran’s life and his humongous achievement. It is only now I could think about trying to know the man because it is only now, I can fathom the depth and magnitude of what was achieved that fateful day on 9th July, 2001.

So, let me write this piece to discern why apart from usual wildcard thing, Goran has special place among people’s hearts with a special focus on his Wimbledon career. Goran turned professional in 1988 and, later that year, with Rüdiger Haas, won his first career doubles title in Frankfurt. Although he focused mostly on his singles career, he also had some success in doubles, winning nine titles and reaching a career-high ranking of 20. He made his first significant impact on the tour in 1990, knocking Boris Becker out of the first round of the French Open men’s singles; he went on to reach the quarterfinals. At that year’s Wimbledon, Ivanisevic reached the semifinals, where he lost to Becker in four sets. Ivanisevic also won his first tour singles title in 1990 at Stuttgart and helped Yugoslavia win the World Team Cup.
Ivanisevic quickly came to be known for his strong, attacking style of play and for an extremely powerful serve. For several years, he had more aces than anyone else did on the tour. Capable of beating anyone in the world when at his very best, he was also known for occasional on-court temper tantrums—usually directed towards himself—and the volatility of the standard of his play.
In 1992, Ivanisevic came to limelight with a heartbreaking Wimbledon performance. He steamrolled his way to reach his first Wimbledon singles final, having defeated Ivan Lendl, Stefan Edberg, and Pete Sampras in succession. His 6–7, 7–6, 6–4, 6–2 semifinal victory over Sampras was particularly impressive, with Ivanisevic serving 36 aces and not even facing a break point in the entire match. In the finals, he faced Andre Agassi, going into the finals as favorite to win; with both players attempting to win their first Grand Slam title. Agassi eventually won 6–7, 6–4, 6–4, 1–6, 6–4 in a match that was marked by typical Ivanisevic brilliance followed by characteristic loss of form. In the fifth set, Ivanisevic had a break point on Agassi’s serve at 3–3, but failed to convert it. In the final game of the match, he served 2 double faults to start the game. Ivanisevic’s ace count for the tournament (206) was the highest in Wimbledon history at the time, until he beat his own record in 2001 with 213 aces.

In 1994, Ivanisevic went onto reach Wimbledon finals once again. Entire tournament, he won all his matches in three sets except for the fourth round, which he won in four sets. The much hyped match against Boris Becker in the semis saw him decimate Becker in 3 sets winning 6-2,7-6,6-4. He met defending champion Pete Sampras in the finals in a match that was supposed to be very tough match.
The first service break came after an hour and three-quarters, and Goran Ivanisevic promptly collapsed, in common with a number of startled spectators. Goran had lost his spirit and could see little point in prolonging the duel with Pete Sampras, the concluding set vanishing in 20 minutes to leave with an unusual score: 7-6, 7-6, and 6-0. Last time a Wimbledon men’s singles final ended with a 6-0 set was in 1936, Fred Perry’s parting shot before turning professional and leaving a large hole in the British game.
Ivanisevic’s frustration and disappointment was understandable. Two years ago, the Croat’s manager, Ion Tiriac had suggested that Agassi should be employed by Nasa, as he had defied the laws of ballistics. Yesterday, he revised his opinion. ‘I think Goran lost the final two years ago,’ he said, ‘but he was beaten today.’
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/tennis-wimbledon-94-sampras-has-the-power-and-more-glory-i-really-couldnt-play-any-better-than-today-1411616.html

In 1995 Wimbledon, Ivanisevic lost in the semifinals to Sampras 6–7, 6–4, 3–6, 6–4, 3–6. Considered as the best of classics between them, Ivanisevic would win the second set with a delightful efficiency and marauding attacks. However, once again in trademark style, instead of putting pressure on his opponent, he handed Sampras a break in the very first game of the third set with a double fault and several silly mistakes at the net. In an identical style to second set, he would come back throwing all punches winning fourth set 6-4. In fifth set, Ivanisevic would start his serve with a double fault and rest is history. Ivanisevic once again fell short to ‘perfect’ Pete.
http://www.tennis-pulse.com/grass-greatest-matches-honorable-mention-sampras-vs-ivanisevic-1995-wimbledon/

In 1996, Ivanisevic would reach semi-finals of US Open by defeating Stefan Edberg in last grand slam match of Stefan’s career. This was his first major semis outside Wimbledon only to be defeated by Sampras again in four sets. Ironically, Sampras’ match with Michael Chang in US Open Finals will be the first tennis match I still remember to have seen. I will be supporting (a fake Asian) Chang only to see the prowess of Sampras and falling in love with Tennis.
In 1998, the duo would meet again. Sampras, already the custodian of four Wimbledon trophies, was now a single victory from equaling Bjorn Borg’s record five titles as well as tying Borg and Rod Laver with 11 Grand Slam singles crowns over all. Ivanisevic, not known as a mental marathoner, refused to quit and would wound up breaking the spirit of Krajicek, Wimbledon’s 1996 champion, in a 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-7 (5-7), 15-13 semis potboiler. ”I know how to play in the finals, I have been there, and I know I just have to keep up with him, keep up and not let my mind go”, said Ivanisevic. He insisted he has armed himself with an infusion of self-control and his usual arsenal of aces. It will be enough he felt to invalidate his reputation as the most talented man never to collect a title in a Grand Slam event.

In a tense final, Goran would win the first and would gain two set points for the second only to see Pete win it back. In a season of inconsistent form, Pete would win the final 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (11-9), 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. Pete would concede the slightest of difference he had from Goran in terms of performance and yet, for the third straight finals, Pete would defeat Goran and his newfound mental strength. Ivanisevic would lament his lack of killer instinct in semis, as his legs would finally give up in fifth set.

The next three years showed the effect of what finals did to Goran as injuries and lack of confidence and form saw his ranking slump to 125 by 2001. It is here I would pause and would like to focus on why I am writing about Goran. I am not even going to write about his 2001 triumph. I am going to focus on Goran, the person I think I can vaguely understand now.
To have dreams and ambitions is not an easy thing in life. More often than not, you would see it crushed, throwing away your hours of hard work, sweat and relentless efforts. Your achievements would count only if you win that single elusive final as you slug it out day after day with like-minded people with like-minded dreams with like-minded pressure to deliver. It is in these times, when you lose, you lose yourself.
After 1998 final, Pete said ”I feel bad for Goran, I have lost a couple of Grand Slam finals, and it’s the toughest defeat in tennis.” Pete knows what he is talking because even after you have won multiple finals, that one loss would throw you off into wilderness. Recently, we saw Federer struggle after a decade of dominance as he would lose it to Nadal or Djokovic again and again, losing not only to them but to himself.
Goran had followed Pete with these words, “Today was very close, a lot of everything, it was interesting, but now it’s the worst moment of my life. You know, I’ve had some bad moments, when you are sick or when somebody dies, but for me this is the worst thing ever, because nobody’s died yet” But Goran knew the truth, something did die within him as he would lose it for next three years trying to recover.

I can only imagine what a person considered then the most talented youngster to come up in tennis scene would feel after a decade of failures. He won around 20 titles but no Grand Slams and he knew he was good having defeated everyone known in the circuit and yet somehow, it was not good enough.
“After that match things started going downhill. I couldn’t get over it.” In 2000, Goran lost in the first round of the French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open.
In 2000, Samsung Open, everyone could see how affected Goran was when he had to retire from 2nd round, because he destroyed all his three rackets while playing. His coach asked him to play with one of his doubles partner, but his frustration with himself, his anger just will not allow it.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/2993335/Ivanisevic-retires-after-losing-Head.html

In moments like these, I feel all we can do is look within and look hard. In moments like these, we do not lose to opponents anymore, we lose to oneself. A number of times I have heard and seen, people when depressed, they depend on their close ones to overcome depression. It is not easy for sure to be able to overlook the huge sadness in your life, to be able to accept your failures and to tell yourself, it is ok and to keep trying. Somehow, I feel it is within us that we eventually find the answers. Even in cases, where we reach for help, it is we who decide that we need help, whom to reach out to and these decisions go far in solving our crisis. Goran I imagined would have finally gone past the pain and disappointments and looked at a plan to solve his crisis. My own experience tells it wont be just a plan, it would be hundreds of plans every single day with each plan resulting in failure. So while we see just 3-4 failures, we would have a number of minute failures each building a sense of frustration, desperation within us and adding to the next minute failure. It is this endless cycle, which keeps us bounded in our thoughts as we often lose sight of our goals.

It is funny that Goran who was ranked 136 would lose the first round of Australian Open, 2001 months before Wimbledon. In his own words, when he had to go and search for the court where he had to play Petr Luxa, someone who never won any Grand Slam main draw match, he realized how far he had fallen. He lost that match.
In Wimbledon, his coach asked him to watch Teletubbies, a kids cartoon series saying it is too funny to miss. I am guessing he did this to give Goran some outlet to laugh, smile, ease his concerns or divert his thoughts. Goran took to it like fish to water and watched it throughout the slam.

As I have read articles, watched videos of Goran, his matches across 2 decades of his playing career, it felt sad to see him win just one Grand Slam. His play had the dominance seldom seen in tennis and his brilliance had me in smiles many times. To just say, Sports is cruel will not be enough as for every story of Goran’s loss scripted one of Pete’s win. Every quality he missed was surprisingly ready made with Pete as Pete went on to write his name somewhat effortlessly as one of the legends in the game. However, to pick oneself up and walk the way Goran did, I can understand why many of us want to applaud this achievement.
Goran did something unhuman just to show humane side of his. A 3-time finals loser, he battled country favorite, Tim Henman in the semis as a he took any luck he got this time to win that battle. Even against Rafter, at one point of time, with game points in his kitty, Goran would double fault once again to remind us his weaknesses. Yet, Goran recalled emotionally, “I told myself just put it there for him to play, let it play on its own”. Therefore, the legend was born with a shot which was a mixture of nervousness, an ordinary serve and Pat’s unforced error but more importantly by Goran’s ability to finally win over his demons. As an adult, I not only understand the nature of the win but I understand the difficultly level as well. Goran made it impossible for himself to win that final, like we all do with some dreams of ours and yet it makes me smile to see him achieve it as he makes me feel slightly better about the chances of achieving mine. To everyone else reading this blog, I hope the story of Goran does the same to you.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goran_Ivani%C5%A1evi%C4%87
P.S. – I have provided most of links I have used for reference. I wish I could put all.

Goran

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Into Dust

sunsetchasesaugust

There has never been an easy path

Journeys have always been long

Time never seems to pace

As we question the road taken

Still we walk away.

 

Distant scenes tell stories unspoken

As we imagine lives unknown

We could feel ourselves smiling

We could see different roads twining

And still we walk away.

 

Skies change their colors

But they  guide us forever

Sitting in a country side shade

We tire looking up for answers

We fail and yet, we still walk away.

 

Our feet are sometimes tired

Our spirit often crushed

While we soothe our burns

Calm winds smother our faces

And we walk away.

 

Till our eyes take it all in

Till the nose could smell everything around

Till the ears hear every little noise

Till our body sustains all this lust

We walk away

Till the legs turn into dust.

 

It’s a take on a song I heard recently from the series House M.D.  ” Into Dust” by Mazzy Star.

 

 

 

 

Ubuntu

So, I stood with my gun,
On top of tiny hill.
I looked for my pawn,
Behind the shrub, still.

No one came that day,
But my anger still stayed.
The memories were raw,
Enough already being said.

I walked miles,
still the gun in my hand.
I imagined humans,
Sometimes shooting in the sand.

I had bullets galore
Given by a “kind man” in mask.
“Use it well”, he said
Complete your task.

All I knew was
I didn’t know enough.
But my anger told me
Enough is enough !!

Those people in uniforms
Took all I had
Those people in uniforms
Were idiots and bad.

The memories were raw,
My hands still seem red.
My brother was handicapped,
My parents were dead.

They threw the bomb
Said the words on street.
He gave me food and shelter
His version seemed legit.

My target was known,
As I walked closer to his home.
My mind was calm,
As light as foam.

I entered that place,
The lavish palace it seemed
Was built from the lakhs
” Informing” was all he did.

My hands were steady,
As I went up the stairs,
My mind was ready,
I was reciting my prayers.

So, I opened the door in a flash,
Entered to find her with a toy.
Her mother seemed to be bathing
She seemed go to play with a Sepoy.

I felt like killing her,
But her face put my anger aside,
Her eyes looked at me,
I melted deep inside.

I tried to stay calm
And finish my target.
She was a small kid,
Nothing to do with us, I bet.

Soon, the child giggled
I hid behind the door
Father father she cried
As she crawled on all four.

Then it struck me
I knew what was wrong
My eyes lit up a little
A distant bird sang a song.

I threw the gun away
I walked towards the unknown
I smiled thinking of her face
As the distant sun shone.

Rainy Day

Have you ever woken up during your school days hoping it would be declared as a rainy day. Rainy days during childhood for me was a glimmer of hope to be honest. It was not only the holiday, I was focused on. To have an entire day to yourself where you could sit down in front of the small stairs to your home and watch the clouds come, it was magical to a child’s mind. I found it engrossing and beautiful. Amidst, the regular calls of my mother to go back to studies or finish my homework, it surely was bliss.
As we grow up, rainy day has changed in its meaning. It’s a day where we go to office no matter what and crib the rains, the potholes on the road filled with water, the stench of the drains etc etc. Somehow, I feel I have been able to retain in my mind, my initial feelings about a rainy day. Thus, when I go out to office, I dont see those negative stuff. I see the lush of the greens, beauty of the dark clouds approaching on a semi blue sky. I feel the cool winds telling me the rains are back and I sense the nostalgia of childhood of if only, I had the time to sit by myself and stare the clouds. To childhood memories and innocent love, rainy day !!

Sunshine in your eyes..

You wake up in the morning
Sunshine in your eyes
The ragged bed sheet tossed aside
Sweat running down your face.

A long day awaits you
Your heart cries out aloud
Your head just shakes at this misfortune
You just cannot accept your place.

Life took a wrong turn decade ago
It seemed a minor glitch
As errors became blunders
Luck slapped on your face.

You want God to be benevolent
Gift you something you don’t deserve
Someone has to be kind
Someone should turn around your days.

That turnaround never came
That help never arrived
As you kept looking for help outside
You forgot to look inside.

Your tired body tells you the answer
Its you who has to strive
You wake up in the morning again
Sunshine in your eyes.

A step you can’t take back..

A lot of awareness has started on depression. We have come a long way from the times depression was considered a thing for ladies and guys being sad were considered pussies !! Over course of time, people have come to accept depression as a state of mind, as an illness that anyone can suffer and that requires support from near and dear ones.

I see Facebook posts stating you are not alone and people asking to ping them, if at any point of time, you feel so. I sometimes ask myself, is it for real as a society have we started showing concern for others for reasons other than greed or profit. This is a huge step for humanity much larger than what Neil Armstrong would have taken perhaps.

As I walk back home, I see the sunset, glowing in its golden bask. I see people watching the same and smiling to themselves like I do. The evening breeze from the nearby golf course and parks swivel my unkempt hair and I try to make it look combed as I walk on.

I watch the park from outside as I walk past it. A lot of families, kids playing with other kids, kids playing with families, old persons walking, smiling,talking to each other and in distance, couples smug into each other trying to escape attention of others and drowning in each other.

As I walk on, I find in distance small food stalls with people swarming around them, trying to gossip as they gulp down the food. There’s a sugarcane vendor and I go to him, take a glass of sugarcane juice as I continue my evening back. It’s getting late as the sun has lost its shine. It’s moved on to some other place as the creaks get louder on my way back home.

I walk silently observing people walking beside me, all in some unknown hurry. Young kids in a hurry to lose some unwanted weight, mothers in a hurry to reach back home, matured adults in a hurry to go back to their busy lives having taken a break to soak some airs. My hands in my pockets, I walk on slowly in peace.

I reach my apartment, smile at the guards . I reach my place and I sit down for a minute. ‘Fine’ comes to my mind, my neighbor had just asked me outside how I was and I smiled and replied fine. It’s a different world perhaps I chuckle where people want to help others. It’s not one I grew up in and somehow yet with all these questions, concerns, Facebook posts etc, I still don’t feel anything different about myself. I still don’t feel like I want to open up. I still don’t feel the world is fair or I belong to it. I still feel indifferent, I still feel alone.

As I stand on the chair with the noose in my hands, I feel surreal, a bit odd and highly nostalgic yet I don’t feel I want to talk about it to someone real. With a sheepish smile on my face, I finally take the step you can’t take back.

 

P.S:- It’s a random musing that came to my mind as I feel as a society we still are yet to do much to reach out to people who cannot reach out themselves.

Warm Regards.

War..

The black clouds beseech
A loud cry
The war will begin
Blood will flow
Lives lost
They were just giving a final try.

Humans won’t stop
As they seek victory, land
Revenge, love, lust
Fulfilling of ego,
Repairing an earlier loss
They seek to recover all
Standing on the hollow sand.

Death seemed inevitable for many
Some didn’t care
Many had fear on their minds
As families sighed in their hearts
The war will begin,
There is no further escape
Many brave men born,
Most laid bare.