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September 13, 2000
Rafter, Ivanisevic hope for Olympics rebound
Double U.S. Open champion Patrick Rafter and triple Wimbledon runner-up Goran Ivanisevic arrived at the Olympic Village on Tuesday with something to prove in the Games tennis tournament starting next week.
Rafter and Ivanisevic both aim to rebound from first-round disasters at the just finished U.S. Open.
Australian Davis Cup star Rafter was bounced out of the season's last major in five sets by unheralded Galo Blanco of Spain, while Ivanisevic collapsed against Slovakia's Dominik Hrbaty, winning just one more game after taking the first set.
Rafter, who has struggled to keep fit since shoulder surgery almost a year ago, said his shoulder was not troubling him as he prepared for his first Olympics.
"I'm used to playing for Australia and used to playing in the Davis Cup," he said. "This (Olympics) takes in the individualism of the sport, while the Davis Cup is purely a team thing.
"You don't feel any individual pride (in Davis Cup) and at the Olympics, if you get a gold I think you're going to feel that it's an individual achievement."
Big-serving Ivanisevic, mired in a miserable slump and talking about retirement following his first-round swoon at the Open, said he hoped the Olympics would help turn him around.
The Croat, who turns 29 on Wednesday, saw his 2000 record fall to 11 wins and 17 losses after the Open setback, his third successive first-round loss.
"Maybe playing for my country of Croatia is going to turn things around, who knows," Ivanisevic said upon arriving at Sydney Airport.
"I have to believe in myself and see what's going to happen."
The moody Ivanisevic may also get a boost from the large local Croatian community, expected to cheer on the lanky left-hander in the Olympic tournament, which begins on Tuesday.
Ivanisevic, who is competing in his fourth Games and won bronze medals in both singles and doubles in Barcelona in 1992, said he enjoyed the Olympic atmosphere.
"It's really fun to stay in the village, to hang out with the other athletes," he said. "If you have an opportunity or chance, you should be here, otherwise I think you're missing a lot."
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