Ivan Ljubicic will be the protagonist of a Sky documentary titled “Ljubo, the man saved by tennis” (to be published December 16), which presents the life of the Croat who escaped the war in the Balkans and ended up in the Pleiades of Moncalieri, where, under the protective and wise wing of the Bucciero family, he grew into a man and an adult tennis player , who landed at number 3 in the world rankings with Riccardo Piatti. He spoke to the newspaper Tuttosport about various topics, including Jannik Sinner’s magical moment. According to Ljubicic, the Italian has embarked on a coherent and functional growth path that is very different from that of Alcaraz. We report on some passages from Ivan’s thoughts.
“What if Jannik wins a slam? I’m confident he can win the ATP Finals first, but winning the Davis Cup allows him to come to Australia as a solid candidatesays Ljubicic. “He has already beaten the entire top 10: now we have to see how he handles the moments in a slam. If you have a bad day where you feel the pressure, if you think too much and he is a very intellectual player, you can get into trouble. He has yet to experience a major final, but he is surrounded by very competent people. Character is his strength, he never loses heart and is never satisfied with what he has done. When I reached world number 3, I thought I had reached my maximum and that’s where my decline began.
“Jannik is not like Alcaraz. He didn’t make a sudden jump from No. 40 to No. 1 in the world, he had to take baby steps. What he has achieved in the last two months, the confirmation of an impressive work that has never stopped, has brought him very close to his great goal. He had to have certain experiences in order to feel more and more comfortable on the road. At the end of 2022 I said that I was very sorry that Jannik had not yet played any important games against the best hitters in the world. Now the scenario has changed, he can’t learn anything from this point of view. He started by winning his first Masters 1000 and then beat all the number ones. He reached the final in Turin and lost it because he was very tired after a really demanding semi-final against Medvedev, but when he left the pitch his thoughts were already on the Davis Cup and his team. Jannik has a perfect attitude both on and off the pitch, he is not afraid to talk about his limitations and experiences“.
For Ljubicic, the various Alcaraz, Sinner Rune still have to look over their shoulders, because new talents are destined to reach the top: “Alcaraz and Rune have emerged, talents that are already at the top. I think Arthur Fils will really get on their nerves next year. Shelton is the classic player who can beat anyone, but I don’t see him as a consistent player yet. Sinners and all such will win, but then others will come from behind.”
Applause also for the Italian model, which continues to produce new, interesting young people. According to Ljubo, these are the Italians who are destined to reach the highest level: “Italian tennis has grown a lot thanks to work and the right decisions. Italy is going through a very important process, a great moment: I believe that in the next 10 or 15 years there will be problems because of the abundance of players, for example in the Davis Cup. The great thing is that, for example Tennis players like Cobolli or Nardi can grow without being in the spotlight and that will help them“.
An important investment for the Croatian, currently employed by the FFT, to improve the transition of the best young people to the high level and thus to the professional world.