Croatia Open Umag: Goran Ivanišević Tops Rafter in Wimbledon Rematch 18 Years Later

Daniela Rogulj

Marking the 18th anniversary of the Wimbledon final on July 9, 2001, Goran Ivanišević and the legendary Australian tennis player Pat Rafter met once more in an exhibition rematch at the central stadium of the Stella Maris resort in the Croatia Umag Open.

And 18 years after his greatest career success, Ivanišević managed yet another victory against Rafter. While the result of this match wasn’t of so much importance, Ivanišević won 6:4, 6:4, reports HRT on July 18, 2019.

The two tennis legends met in front of thousands of spectators at the Goran Ivanišević stadium on Wednesday – and while the Croatian tennis star and 2001 Wimbledon winner reigned supreme, the 46-year-old Australian reminded the audience just why he was once one of the world’s best. 

Recall, Rafter has spent several years off of the tennis courts, and instead dedicates his time to running a farm in Australia. Goran Ivanišević, on the other hand, has played many exhibitions matches and practices with today’s top players such as Marin Čilić, Tomas Berdych, and Milos Raonić – and even helped lead Novak Djokovic to another Wimbledon title just last weekend. 

After the duel, Ivanišević announced that this was his last match in Umag, where he has played over the years with tennis greats such as American Andre Agassi and Spaniard Juana Carlos Ferrer. And we can’t forget the 30th anniversary of the Umag tournament,  where he played a rematch of the 1990 final against Goran Prpić.

“I thank him for coming. We have been trying to do this for a long time and after five, six years he finally made it. I thanked him on behalf ofall Croatians who cheered in 2001. For me, this is the cherry on top of the cake. I am retiring from the exhibition matches in Umag – after Rafter that is that,” Ivanišević said.

“This was a match between two old players on clay, and maybe I should have done it before. We played a lot of good tennis. When I hit 15 serves in the net, I no longer hurt, but I am laughing now. I’m glad I came, this is a wonderful place,” Rafter said.

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