In Cliché 101, they teach sport stars to say that they have no interest in personal achievements.
Australian captain Ricky Ponting showed all budding young stars how to do it after recently claiming the most Test centuries by an Australian, saying poker-faced that he didn’t worry about how many runs he had made, or 100s, and after his career may be the time to sit down and reflect on the stats.
This deserved sustained applause from cliché-lovers everywhere because the finest humble duck is the “after I retire, I’ll have a beer and reflect on my achievements” line.
But have you ever wondered about the actual thought process that happens post-competition? Go no further than one of sport’s true individuals, Goran Ivanisevic.
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The former Wimbledon champion is now old enough to play on the veteran’s circuit (he’s playing the British Masters this week) and knows his tennis days are mostly done. But Goran has never just been the sum of his ability to whack a fluffy ball over a net. His perspective on the world and his place in it breaks all the rules.
Such as how he sees his relationship with the English in the wake of his 2001 Wimbledon triumph. Take it away, Goran.
“Sometimes I think, ‘Jesus, why do they still like me so much? I should be public enemy No 1’,” he told The Times.
“A lot of people forget that in my winning year I also knocked out Greg Rusedski a couple of rounds earlier. Then I beat their favourite, the true Englishman (Tim Henman), in the year that he was supposed to win Wimbledon. The rain came and I ruined their summer.
“They should hate me, never let me back in the country. I remember watching the TV afterwards, I thought I’d caused a national disaster. I always believed they just saw me as that crazy guy from Croatia who smashed his rackets, paid a fortune in fines and lost three previous finals. Now it seems they love me. Okay by me, it’s nice, but how does Tim Henman feel about that?”
We could point out here that if Goran thinks he should be endangered in Britain for that Wimbledon victory, he’d better stay well clear of Australia.
To score his unexpected Wimbledon title, as a wild card no less, Goran beat Patrick Rafter, 9-7 in the fifth, in the final – thwarting what was clearly our Pat’s best chance at lifting the trophy.
But to Hell with it. Let’s get Pat and Goran and Tim and Greg together and share a beer.