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Monday, 9 July, 2001, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Zagreb's joy at Ivanisevic victory
Ivanisevic supporters in Split cheer on their hero
Croats were glued to television sets
By Nicholas Wood in Zagreb

Like tennis critics across the world, most Croats had written off Goran Ivanisevic.


One driver was so distracted listening to his radio that he crashed his car at a Zagreb traffic junction

It was with some surprise then that people greeted his entry into the Wimbledon finals.

The news was big enough to merit a picture on the front pages of several newspapers.

This was all the more surprising at a time when most headlines have been dominated by a political crisis prompted by the government's decision to hand over war crime suspects to the United Nations tribunal in the Hague.

For several hours, though, most Croats forgot about politics and were glued to their television sets.

Goran Ivanisevic with the Wimbledon men's singles championship trophy
At last! Goran celebrates victory
Cafes and bars were filled with enthusiasts who had never shown much interest in tennis and, when the outsider clinched the final set, the reaction could be heard across the capital, Zagreb.

Cars tooted their horns and people set off fire crackers. One driver was so distracted listening to his radio that he crashed his car at a traffic junction.

Until now, most Croats have been used to hearing stories of their tennis champion getting into trouble with umpires or being plagued by injuries.

Now Goran Ivanisevic is guaranteed to be remembered as a national hero.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Wimbledon Champion Goran Ivanisevic
"I have to start to believe slowly that I am Wimbledon champion"
See also:

09 Jul 01 | Wimbledon 2001
10 Jul 01 | Media reports
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