Since turning professional in 1988, the left-handed Ivanisevic has been one of the most popular players on the men's tour. He won 21 titles before 2001, but Grand Slam success still eluded him after 13 years on the circuit.
He came agonisingly close to glory in reaching three Wimbledon finals before losing out each time, despite a destructive serve which has always proved lethal on grass surfaces. He was beaten by Andre Agassi in five sets in the 1992 final before losing to Pete Sampras at the last hurdle in 1994 and 1998. A wretched slump in form then followed for Ivanisevic, and he even considered retirement as his game and world ranking slumped alarmingly.
His slump continued until the start of last year’s Wimbledon where, world-ranked a lowly 125, he needed a wildcard simply to take his place in the tournament draw. One of the greatest comeback tales in world sport then unfolded as he beat Fredrik Jonsson, Carlos Moya, Andy Roddick, Greg Rusedski, Marat Safin and Tim Henman on his way to a fourth career Wimbledon final.
Serve-and-volley specialist Pat Rafter stood in his way but Ivanisevic thrilled the Centre Court crowd by winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 2-6, 9-7, becoming the first wildcard ever to triumph at Wimbledon. He went on to reach the semi-finals in Indianapolis last August and the quarter-finals at St Petersburg before ending the year ranked 13th in the world.