Ask Mats Wilander interesting views -
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post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old May 14th, 2004, 06:19 PM Thread Starter
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Ask Mats Wilander interesting views

Ask Mats Wilander
Seven times Grand Slam winner Mats Wilander answered your questions.

The Swede won the first of his three French Open titles when he was just 17-years-old in 1982.

He enjoyed a magnificent year in 1988 winning three Grand Slam titles to secure the world number one position.

These days he's a regular on the Delta Tour of Champions that culminates in the popular Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall, London from 30 November to 5 December.

Besides the increased power in modern tennis, what have been the biggest changes in the game from when you were playing?
Nils Sveinsson, Australia via Norway

The biggest change is that players today go out and play their own game as good as they can, usually from the beginning of the match, and they will only change if they don't play well.

In my time very rarely did you try to play the best that you could play - you tried to figure out a way that was going to make the other guy play worse, so you were a little more concentrated on your opponent compared to what the players are today.

Two questions - what are you doing now that you have retired from playing and do you think that Tim Henman will ever win a Grand Slam? Caroline Harris, UK

I've been thinking that Tim Henman is going to win Wimbledon at some point in his life. I think Pete Sampras was unfortunately playing at the same time as Tim Henman so that made it basically impossible to win Wimbledon then, but to me Henman looks like a better player every year.

He doesn't look like he's got stronger in his body on the outside - he perhaps needed to and it's maybe too late - but it seems like his game has a little more power every year. He's changed coaches a little bit and on grass these day if it's a wet Wimbledon and if the courts are pretty fast I think Tim Henman is one of the favourites.

These days I'm the Davis Cup captain of Sweden, I play on our very lucrative Delta Tour of Champions, play a few exhibitions here and there, and do a bit of coaching. Mainly my passion these days is to play on the senior tour and to get Swedish tennis back to where it used to be.

What are the most important things a tennis governing body (like the LTA) can do to produce world champion tennis players. Or is success all down to the individual?
David Stead, Scotland

I don't think there's much anyone can do to 'produce' a top five player in either the women or the men's game. I think that's totally up to the individual to get to that level. The governing bodies of countries - whether it's Federations, the LTA, the ATP - what they need to teach kids from a young age are the basics of the game, on and off the court.

I find that many kids today are unprepared for an hour of practice and I think parents are just so happy if their kids like ANY sport these days that they try to help out a little bit too much and the boys and girls don't have to do anything themselves. . Winning or losing is something that they should teach kids is irrelevant. It's the fun of competing that's important.

What are your impressions about Roger Federer? Do you think he can match Sampras' record?
Steven Kanga Armoo, Ghana

I think Roger Federer is most probably a better tennis player than Pete Sampras was, and I think he will go into all four majors every year for the next five, six, seven years, if hes healthy, thinking he can win and I think the other players know that he can win.

I think that even spills over into the French Open. Sampras was never a threat at the French Open but he was very dominant in the other three. I think Federer can win all four of them.

Who is your favourite female player on the tour right now and why?
Jonathan Miller, England

Amelie Mauresmo is one of them. I also like to see Justine Henin-Hardenne play, I like Kim Clijsters' fighting spirit, but to me I think there are not many more beautiful things than a female player who plays proper clay court tennis on clay and actually knows how to slide properly and hit with a lot of top spin.

The Williams sisters I don't enjoy watching play tennis - I enjoy watching them pick an opponent apart physically and mentally. Everybody thinks that they are physically stronger than everybody, and yes they are, but it's mentally where they dominate.

If you could pick any two players from past or present and match them up together in a match, who would they be and who would win?
Phil Lloyd-Bushell, England

I would have liked to see Rod Laver play Roger Federer. I think Laver was obviously the greatest player of all time from his record and was able to play on all surfaces. I think obviously with equipment changes, Federer would have blown him off the court, but Laver is left-handed, and there are not too many left-handers on Tour any more.

What has happened to Swedish Tennis? Why do we no longer have any world number ones anymore?
Richard Jansson, Scotland

Why we don't have any World number ones any more is an impossible question to answer. I don't think you can make someone be number one in the world but what we used to have 19 guys in the main draw in 1989, and this year we had two, which is fine but then you should have 10-15 guys that are ranked 200 or 300 in the world and we don't have that. We don't have the 15, 16, 17-year-old's that are all solid players with solid fundamentals.

Having worked with Marat Safin, what are your thoughts on him teaming up with Peter Lundgren?
Laura, UK

I think they're a really good team actually. Safin is a little bit like Roger Federer in that he's really talented. If anything's missing it's the mental stability. When he plays well he plays unbelievably well, but he has to be a little bit more patient when he doesn't play well and I think Federer is the same kind of player.

What I found hard (coaching him) is that these guys need to learn the game of tennis themselves - it's really hard for someone from the outside to tell them or explain to them. I think Lundgren did a great job with Federer in that he just let him develop in his own time and hopefully with Marat Safin he still has a few more years to be able to do the same thing.

Of all your opponents, who did you always look forward to playing against because you could count on them raising the intensity of your game?
Ray Gryder, USA

I really enjoyed playing Yannick Noah - he was and still is my favourite. In the heat of the moment he was very fair and very physical. He was strong, big and he moved unbelievably well. He was also mentally tough. He didn't have the best shots but the intensity of the match and the positive energy you got from playing Yannick Noah was something I didn't get from anyone else.

Do you think you get the credit you deserve as an all time great player? Could this be that you failed to win Wimbledon?
Matthew Hutchinson, England

I think maybe McEnroe got the credit for winning more than he actually did. People get confused with personality and success - on the court and off the court are two different things. Maybe Wimbledon was a big one - if I'd made the finals of Wimbledon maybe it would have been a totally different thing, but to me it's a Grand Slam and I'd rather lose first round than lose in the final.

What do you consider to be the best aspect of your game whether physical or mental which enabled your great success?
Jacob Pollak, England

Over seven matches at the French Open I thought I won two matches before the match because I knew that he couldn't run with me for four hours and I knew that I could run for days if I had to. I think the guy that WAS able to run knew that I wasn't going to let up mentally, so that was another match won. I knew that I could run as long as him and not get tired mentally. Against other guys you didn't need to switch on mentally - it was just a physical thing and your shots had to be working.

How would you rate your opponents like McEnroe, Lendl, Edberg and Becker? Who was the toughest to play with?
Sundar, USA

I think Boris Becker was. Ivan Lendl was the best player I ever played. He was the first guy to bring the game to more of a power level and you could know that if he played really well you could get blown off court and that wouldn't happen against John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors or even Bjorn Borg or Guillermo Vilas.

Lendl was able to do that. Then Becker came along and he was a kind of similar player to Lendl although he came to the net a little more. The difference with Becker was that he hit these shots from both sides. He had a very modern way of thinking on the tennis court. He would hit certain shots very hard that we thought you weren't supposed to do. It was like wow, you can't play tennis like that. I remember the first time I saw Pete Sampras I was defending the US Open in 1989 and I lost to Pete in five sets.

They were saying he was the next star. I totally disagreed at the press conference because I said there's no way you can play like that - you can't hit two good shots, then hit one bad one into the fence, and then hit another bad one and then two great serves and you suddenly win the game. I thought that's not the way to play tennis. But he changed the game and I think Becker was the first guy to do that. I had big problems with Boris Becker's power game and not knowing what he was going to do next.
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