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August 12, 1996

Mats Wilander


JOE LYNCH: ASAP Reporting is making a transcript here, so speak up with the questions. We'll make the transcript. First question.

Q. You came out playing running on empty. Did you feel tired?

MATS WILANDER: It's been with me for the past few years and you're the first one that actually asked me the question. So obviously wasn't working. No, I don't feel tired. I haven't played any matches -- actually, one tournament since French Open, a challenge tournament in Germany, and I played two matches on clay. And then I hurt my left groin muscle. So it was the first tournament back, really.

Q. How much practice have you been doing?

MATS WILANDER: I practiced last week, maybe ten, 12 hours, but -- so it's -- I didn't come in expecting to win any matches. I expected to play a decent match, and I think there were moments when I played pretty good, and then you break down on the most important things, which are the return of serve and serving your own, serving yourself.


MATS WILANDER: I think just not -- yeah, just lack of practice. I mean, you would know. No, I think you get it -- it's coming back, it's not a big problem. The point isn't clay, it's -- I don't find a problem. When you're not used to returning serve, that it bounces over your head, it takes a while to get into. You've got to be around tournament practice and play with guys who have big serves so you can return them well. I think it's hard to stop (inaudible). On the other hand, he's a better player than I am, and he beat me.

Q. Tough first round draw for you?

MATS WILANDER: It is a tough first round draw. It's the kind of guy you want to play second or third. (inaudible).

Q. What's the difference between the players you played against when you played at the French Open at 17 to today's player? You know, tactically, techniquewise.

MATS WILANDER: I think technique is not very different from -- the way they hit the ball now (inaudible.) And those wide, bigger rackets, a little thicker. Also, a little stronger physically. And not as strong mentally in that way for short points. And more power. And that makes the difference, I think. It goes from one end to the other. You don't try to use the other guy's (inaudible.).

Q. Is that happening in doubles too?

MATS WILANDER: I don't think so as much, no. No, doubles is -- I mean, it's always been short points in doubles. And it's always (inaudible.) I think Woodbridge Woodforde have proven that many times in the last few years. They're not the shortest guys on the tour, but they're definitely not the tallest, and they don't hit the ball very hard and they keep winning them every year.

Q. Could you start to hear the crowd coming behind you when it was 5-2 in the --

MATS WILANDER: Yeah, I felt the crowd the whole time, I just couldn't use it to my advantage, I guess, apart from that game.

Q. You're 33, in tennis it seems like that's old. Are you old?

MATS WILANDER: No. Not in here. In there, maybe. In there I feel old.

Q. What are your priorities for these days? Where does tennis fall in your life?

MATS WILANDER: I don't know, it's hard. It's a hard question to answer. You can't compare it to -- for your family or wife or kids or even for your free time, for your golf game for that matter, I can't really compare it. I need tennis in my life, whether it's on this level or on a lower level. I think it's hard to stay at this level. You have to play a lot and you have to practice a lot. And most of all, you have to be healthy. And if you're not healthy, then it takes a long time -- for me to take three, four weeks off now, it's lot harder than before. Your body just can't recover from hard practice straightaway after an injury.

Q. Will you just go home today? Will you be with your family?

MATS WILANDER: I think that won't be for about an hour. After that I will go home, yeah.

Q. Do you see yourself playing for the veterans or seniors in two years?

MATS WILANDER: Yeah, sure. Love to. I'd love to. (inaudible.) I turned 33 year this year.

Q. Do you think you can stay at this level? You've talked about tennis having to be in your life at either a high level or lower level. Do you think you're still able to stay at that high level and compete our there week in and week out against these guys?

MATS WILANDER: I'm not sure. It depends. As I said before, if you're healthy, that's my problem that I can play any ten tournaments a year and take time off on your own or whatever. But once you get injured and you miss three or four tournaments, first of all, you miss out on training, hitting on the ball. So you miss three or four tournaments and you have to start practicing a lot harder and you have to makeup the tournament that you missed out on. And that's when your body usually would break down even more. So I don't know, I have to see. I have most of my ranking points in these two weeks, this week and next week. Actually, 80 percent of my points are right here. So the decisions I guess is a little bit different. (inaudible.) And running through it, I had a good enough ranking to get into the tournaments without being on my knees every week to ask for a wild card, then I feel I should play. And then I'm going to keep playing. You can still play competitive tennis, you just can't do it week in and week out playing a few tournaments here and there. And hopefully I can always play this tournament, if you keep in decent shape. (inaudible.)

Q. Will we see you at the Open?

MATS WILANDER: Yeah, sure.

Q. Do you know if the press is being different from country to country? Is one country worse than another country? Is the English press tougher than here or are they all the same?

MATS WILANDER: I haven't noticed it. I think the American press is by far the most partial or the most press to write about the American sport athletes, more than any other country, which is, I'm sure -- and I know Americans living in America realized it during the Olympics. It doesn't make it tougher, but I think it makes it difficult.

Q. Is your goal to stay healthy, would that be the number one and overriding goal or are there goals that we don't sense from you that you haven't an articulated?

MATS WILANDER: Apart from being healthy?

Q. Yeah.

MATS WILANDER: Well, I think when I'm healthy, then they change. You know, at this moment now, when I was out there and it was 3-All in the first set, I said I can't believe I'm still holding serve. And I start thinking about it. And then I made one or two doublefaults there and you hit one deep approach and then suddenly the match seems like it could go to hell. So, you know, at that point then the motivation is different. I'm in a match, I can win the set, I have great points in the second game of the match, and I should have maybe won that point. And then you lose the first set and you feel a little rusty and you might feel the injury a little bit. And then the goal changes again. And I just want to get through it, and I'm happy that I'm able to start hitting the ball. And then I start thinking about the future and taking a few days off, maybe practicing a little lighter. So it changes all the time. When I'm healthy, I feel like I -- you know, the burn is still there. And I think my timing is the there, and I think I can play with these guys, and at certain moments sometimes in a whole match, sometimes for ten minutes, you know, it changes.

Q. What could the physical injury do to your mental game?

MATS WILANDER: Well, I don't think -- I guess you -- if you feel tired physically, then you mentally get a little tired. I don't -- that's not -- not really my problem. I think, like I said -- (inaudible.) But that's a little different from, you know -- if I step on court, I'm a hundred percent and I don't feel the injury. It might hurt a little bit here and there, but it doesn't bother. But it shouldn't make a difference. It's more a lack of -- lack of practice, I guess, that you have because you've been injured.

Q. Does that include tactical? You know, early on you didn't seem to try to (inaudible) at all, and later on you had some conception -- do you lose your game tactical game when

you --

MATS WILANDER: I guess you do a little bit. You lose your judgment on certain shots. I went for a few in the end. I was with a few forehands that I've never gone for before, ever. And that's maybe -- sometimes now I play, and I think that oh, man, I should try to win it because that's what you should do, and that's what you're supposed to do. That's what guys are trying these days, and I think it's sometimes hard to play within yourself when you haven't been at it for a while. (inaudible.) So it changes. Lack of practice definitely hurts your tactic. (Inaudible.)

Q. Nice one here last year. A little more disappointing the early exit being one of your favorite spots being close to home?

MATS WILANDER: Definitely more than last year. But it's a more common field than last year. I've been to this tournament three or four times before. (inaudible.)

Q. A little more responses because --

MATS WILANDER: I do, yeah. I haven't -- oh, I guess going into last year I looked forward to it because I was playing well before I came here. But before that I hadn't really. I hadn't gotten into playing tournaments that you could drive to, and I saw how great it is. If you do well, it's the best thing in the world you can go back home. Just waiting to come home and have dinner with your family and friends and everybody is happy for you, and it's great. Then it's great. But losing while I'm down here, so it doesn't really matter. Actually, it's worse because now I've got to go home and deal with it. Know you've got to try and explain it.

Q. What was the toughest thing for you coming out of semi retirement?

MATS WILANDER: My back coming out of it. That was the toughest thing, was I decided to start playing. Just didn't seem to come out at the time. It was very hard. (Inaudible.)

Q. The skill didn't deteriorate very much?

MATS WILANDER: I don't think the skill changed, not much, no. It's like riding a bicycle I think. It's the same thing, if you are on the practice (inaudible.) Some days they do and mostly they don't, you know. And I think that's maybe the difference. (inaudible.) So it's skillwise I don't think it changes, your head.

Q. What do you read when you pick up a newspaper, just, you know, a newspaper of your choice?

MATS WILANDER: It starts in the back, and I read the sports, then I go to TV, weather, and in America that's it getting much --

Q. Besides that.

MATS WILANDER: News about Sweden in the American papers. So, that's what I look for. I mean -- if there's a disaster happening then you know that you pick up the paper and it's what you're reading on the front page. But I'm not -- I think I'm going (inaudible.) Watch half an hour Eyewitness News at 6 o'clock, 8 o'clock when you get all the information that you supposedly need tomorrow to -- it's true, I think. Newspapers are being, you know, beaten by these quick news programs, which is why we don't even have a paper coming to our home every day. But...

Q. If we classify this as a comeback from '94 to now, how would you rate yourself so far? I mean, are you satisfied with how things are progressing for you?

MATS WILANDER: I think last year I was very satisfied with the way I played in the semifinals here and Canadian Open. This year I had a couple of decent tournaments. But I am satisfied that -- sometimes I'm satisfied, sometimes I'm not satisfied. I'm -- I didn't get -- I don't have a goal that I'm trying to reach. I'm not trying to be pretend to reach the finals or semis of any tournament and beat a top ten player or anything like that. I'm trying to stay healthy and keep doing it. It's something I like to do. And if I'm healthy and I can keep playing, then I think I would love to do it for a long time. Sometimes things aren't decided by yourself, they're decided by the power of nature. And I think, I guess, I get the -- you know, you get the feeling when it's time to quit as well. So I get the feeling (inaudible.)

Q. You still feel comfortable playing on the soft court?

MATS WILANDER: Yeah, for sure.

JOE LYNCH: Anything else? All right, thanks.

End of FastScripts….

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