Jez Green from Paraguay... PDF Print E-mail

Hi all,

Jez here from a very hot and sweaty Paraguay. The heat here is as I remember from a few years ago, brutal. Ilija has played some very strong matches over the last two weeks. He lost last week in the quarters after beating the No. 2 under-18 Argentine in a 3-and-a-half-hour marathon. This is exactly why we are here, these type of matches in these conditions form top tennis players, there is no other way to win out here but to fight and to be prepared to compete for as long as it takes.

And then we got to Paraguay. If I recall in my last blog I said that South America can be a nasty place and even though I already know this, having been here four times, I was not ready for what happened to Ilija in his second round match. He was playing a very streetwise but very unsportsmanlike player from El Salvador and it was a real war from start to finish until 5-4 up in the third when Ilija played an amazing drop shot on match to point secure the win…

…Or, so we thought!

The crowd was applauding Ilija’s victory but the other guy wasn’t going to shake hands, he was just getting ready to play the next game and out of the blue started abusing Ilija saying he was crazy and it was 5-3. The guy blatantly cheated and changed the score and then all hell broke loose.

Ilija, after the relief of winning a tough match, was furious and in shock. Things then went from bad to worse when the referee came on and after 20 minutes talking in Spanish, decided amazingly that the match had to be played again from 5-4 to Ilija.

So here it was, Ilija was going to have to win twice - nothing we could do about it. All I remember saying to Ilija was that this is the worst it gets and to be very strong in the head for five minutes more. The large crowd that had then gathered saw Mr Vucic find a big serve at 40-30 under extreme pressure to win the match for the second time.

‘Cometh the hour cometh the man!”

The cheer from Ilija, myself and the crowd could be heard in Belgrade!

Amazing experience and the kind of situation that will undoubtedly make Ilija stronger for his whole career.




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