FORGET all this football’s coming home stuff. Tennis, you will recall, was also meant to be coming home back in the summer of 2001, writes Stewart Fisher.

When Tim Henman knocked out a young firebrand called Roger Federer, who himself had outgunned the mighty Pete Sampras, the draw seemed to be opening up for England’s serial semi-final loser. Goran Ivanisevic, ranked No 125 in the world, and only at SW19 with the benefit of a wild card, was up next. Expectation was growing exponentially with every round. And when rain intervened on Friday night, Henman even had a two-sets to one lead. No wonder Ivanisevic said later that the change in the weather had been sent by God.

Read more: Andy Murray: Skipping SW19 was great decision

The rest is history, the Croat recovering his poise the following day to complete a 7-5, 6-7 (6), 0-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 win, becoming the only wild card to take this title with victory against Pat Rafter in the final. And it is a history he hopes will repeat itself as the two nations football teams collide in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

Ivanisevic, you will gather, feels that all this football’s coming home stuff is wearing a little thin. As of yesterday he was hoping Milos Raonic, the big-serving Montenegrin with whom he works, would be granted an early start for his last eight encounter with John Isner, so he could be “in the pub with the other English people and hopefully I’m going to be the last one standing and laughing”.

“I hope we don’t lose to the English,” added Ivanesevic, “because already you [England] are in the final. You already won. You’re coming home. You’re bringing the trophy - you’re so arrogant. You are the best. You are the most beautiful. For sure you are coming home, but I hope not with the trophy.”

As for those memories of 2001, as a three-time losing finalist and former World No 2, he felt he deserved more credit.

“I remember a lot of things about that day,” he said recently. “I remember nobody gave me a chance. When I lost the second set there was only one player on the court and that was him. He was killing me and I didn’t know what to do.

Read more: Andy Murray: Skipping SW19 was great decision

“When we went back into the locker room I was very upset at the way I was playing,” he added. “But later that evening Alan [Mills, the tournament referee] came in and said ‘guys, see you tomorrow’. And from that moment I knew it was mine. We came back for the fifth set and I felt more comfortable. People were still talking about Fred Perry and when you have to listen to that for three days, not only for one, then it is weighing on him. For me it was easier.”

Only one match was played in the men’s singles yesterday, Juan Martin del Potro confirming his threat by seeing out a 7-6 (1), 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-6 (5) win against Gilles Simon. He meets Rafa Nadal today, having won five of their previous 15 meetings, last up on Centre, as Roger Federer suffers the rare ignominy of being dumped on No 1. “Everybody knows the favorites are Roger and Rafa,” he said. “But the other six players are fighting for the big goal, as well. It could be a surprise this year.”