Special Correspondent

  • `It was tough to miss two Masters events and the U.S. Open'
  • Ancic said he was getting better every year, and needed to get physically tough

    NEW DELHI: He was sincerity personified on and off the court. It was easy for the kids to understand why Mario Ancic is a top-10 professional in the intensely competitive tennis world, helping Croatia win the Davis Cup trophy and bag the Olympic doubles bronze at Athens.

    He may look too young to teach, but the gangling 22-year-old showed that he understood the art of communication as he went about giving kids tips at a tennis clinic at the DLTA Complex here on Wednesday.

    "I love helping kids. I do so whenever I get a chance. When I was young, I watched the professionals who did such programmes with awe. Now, I try to teach kids as much as I can,'' said Ancic, on his maiden visit to India to compete in the Kingfisher Airlines ATP Tour event in Mumbai next week.

    Ancic said he knew Croatia had lost a Davis Cup tie to India despite being spearheaded by his idol Goran Ivanisevic and that he was keen to see the country and meet the people.

    "I have known Mahesh Bhupathi for a long time. It was nice to win the doubles title with him in China last Sunday. We will be playing together in Mumbai as well. Doubles is important for my game as I get to practise serve-and-volley. Unfortunately, I can't play much doubles as I have to focus on my singles,'' said Ancic after an hour-long session on the court with the kids.

    `Good to be back'

    Ancic said it felt good to return to the circuit after losing ten weeks to a knee injury that saw him miss the U.S. Open.

    "It was tough to miss two Masters events and the US Open. But I worked hard on the preparation and the rehab. I didn't expect much on the return; but I beat a few very good guys on way to the singles final in Beijing. I was a bit tired in the end. I hope I can continue in the same fashion in Mumbai," he said. The Croat said that it was important that he did very well in the tournaments ahead as he was close to getting into the year-end Masters event to be held in Shanghai. Ancic highlighted that it was tennis boom back home as he and Ivan Ljubicic figured in the top-10 while Ivo Karlovic has been in the top-100.

    "When we returned home with the Davis Cup trophy there were 80,000 people at the airport. When I went to my home in Zagreb there were 50,000 waiting for me. It was unbelievable," said Ancic, who clinched the deciding fifth rubber in the final.

    He had beaten Roger Federer in straight sets in the first round of Wimbledon in 2002 but lost to him four times afterwards, including the quarterfinal at Wimbledon this season. Ancic said he was getting better every year, and needed to get physically tough to have a shot at a Grand Slam title.

    "I hope my time will come some day and I will go all the way to the Grand Slam trophy," said Ancic

    Brace by Saroha

    Nikhil Saroha struck twice as Union Academy School, Raja Bazaar, defeated DAV Public School, Ghaziabad, 4-0 and made it to the semifinals of the New Delhi YMCA inter-school under-15 hockey tournament at the Shivaji Stadium here on Wednesday.

    Abdool Mazid opened the scoring in the fourth minute before Saroha (10th and 18th) gave Union Academy a 3-0 halftime lead. Rahul Kumar (45th) completed the tally.

    Also making it to the semifinals were Bal Bharti School, Noida, Guru Harkishan Public School, Shahdara and GBSS, Singhu.

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