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March 7, 1995

Mats Wilander


Q. Talk to us about the match and tell us about the second set.

MATS WILANDER: Well, I think that first set, I don't know, I didn't feel like I played that well. I didn't "feel" the ball very well. I think it was just -- I was hitting off of my back foot all the time and the fact that I won the first set, I think was just more luck. I played a little better on the big points, but I didn't feel good. Beginning of the second set. I was, I don't know, sometimes you get upset even though you are up and you are leading, you just lose your concentration for a moment and I wasn't playing good enough to be able to reach my concentration --- mental let-down.

Q. You didn't come in so often.

MATS WILANDER: I expected it to be the kind of match that it was. We played a lot of times in the past and played Emilio also and they play pretty similar, so I know the way that these matches usually go and when they play the kind of game that Javier plays, I feel like I am still fast enough to be in the point and be able to move around, but I also get very defensive, so I hit a lot of short balls and he basically is forced to come in.

Q. Can you assess for me where your career stands today?

MATS WILANDER: Where does my career. . .

Q. Where is your game right now?

MATS WILANDER: Well, compared to what?

Q. Say, a yeah ago, obviously not back to when you were winning the U.S. Open.

MATS WILANDER: I think the difference between now and a year ago is not necessarily that I am playing better, but I mean, I haven't pulled out a lot of matches, but I feel the kind of matches that you need to pull out and eventually the physical part of the game, actually hitting of the ball is what will come back with a lot of confidence, so I think I am just -- I am getting using to be out traveling a lot and getting a little bit more used to playing close matches and I mean, it pays off. I think today I didn't really think I was going to win the last set.

Q. What are you doing for conditioning now that you are 30 years old and you are not playing -- you are not playing as a teenager anymore; what are you doing to --

MATS WILANDER: I try and work out when I am back home and try and basically trying to play a lot of tennis. I don't feel like I need to be physically as strong as I used to be because there is no room to "run home matches" if you know what I mean, you don't -- nobody is fast enough to be able to run somebody down. You have to actually be able to outhit them, sort of, these days, so that has changed. I think you maybe need to be faster, but not -- stamina does not have to be as strong as before. So I just try and play a lot of tennis basically and try and get a little bit stronger.

Q. Are you playing smarter now than you did, say, ten years ago?

MATS WILANDER: I think I am playing smarter in a certain sense, but at the same time when you have a lot of confidence, it seems like you are playing smarter because you are doing the right thing and I think I am thinking more now than I used to do, but -- and I think I know what I am doing more than I used to do, but as I say, I know that I am supposed to hit the ball down the line with my backhand more often, but it is just a matter of confidence to actually do it, in '88 there was a not a problem with having a lot of confidence; that is the difference.

Q. Sounds like you had a little bit of a crisis of confidence in the third set too, you didn't think you had a chance to win?

MATS WILANDER: Well, as I said, I didn't really feel that good out there. I think the ball seemed to be flying off of my racket quite a lot, and when that happens, I feel like I don't enough confidence to hit through the ball and I stand there and basically just push it back and it didn't get better as the match went on. I think I played a lucky game to 2-All; then I played a great game to break him to 3-2, even though I lost my serve straight after that, it was just "wow", it is actually still there, and I felt like I could dig down a little deeper and was able to break him again.

Q. Was it that point that you thought you did have a chance to win?

MATS WILANDER: Yeah, after the point in the second set I had just -- didn't have anything on the ball, was giving him too much time to do what he likes to do.

Q. How about your volleys; lacked a hit of steam?

MATS WILANDER: Sure, sometimes it is hard to volley. Get a guy like Sanchez because he hits with so much spin and you don't get any free power from his shots, you just get a lot of spin, so if you are a little late at the volley, then it is easy to either to punch it in the net or to hit floaters, and you really have to work hard and go through volleys, and that is -- my volley is more of -- the guy hits hard, I had just block it and so ---it always happens when I play against these guys.

Q. Mats, you used to win a lot more matches in the best time of your career. Obviously does this victory today become more precious to you because it does not happen so often?

MATS WILANDER: For sure. I play first rounds matches these days that I am as psyched to play and as happy to win as finals before, I mean, it is -- you basically cut it down to how many matches you play. If you play two matches a week, in average; then your second match is a big one, and for me, now it is just matter of surviving the first round and possibly the second round, so, no, I feel I am very psyched up for the first rounds much more now than before. Before it was more of a routine thing.

Q. If you were walking out on the court today before the match supposing you didn't say to yourself, well, I want to win this match; if that wasn't the case, what did you say to yourself? In other words, what was going to be my strategy or work on that if I do this I can probably win? Was it the groundies that you want to make sure that you are cutting close to the lines?

MATS WILANDER: No. I think it is just being alert and trying to take the ball a bit earlier. I think my strength as a player is being able to read the game; not being able to -- it is not actually the hitting part of the game. I can't just step in and hit a lot of winners, so what my strategy before -- I got to be fresh and alert; try and take everything as early as I can--- not on the rise as Agassi, but just take it earlier and use some of his speed on my shots because I can't just stand and hit from my hip and hit winners. That is usually what I try -- I just focus and just be alert and try and anticipate it as early as you can.

Q. Regardless of whether you win or lose, if you do hit early or come in and hit early, do you feel good about that, because you prefer to win?


Q. But even if you lost and you did do what you wanted to do, you could feel good about yourself?

MATS WILANDER: Oh, yeah, I -- for sure. I mean, I am trying -- I mean, I suppose it's a toss up between what is more important for me to actually enjoy the match or to win it. It gets down to 4-0 in the third set; then it is not a tossup anymore. From the beginning you want to play a good match and feel like you are playing as good as you do in practice. I feel some days I do play as good; then I get psyched; "let us try and win this match," but what happens in the match like this-- sometimes just feel I have a chance against Javier because he is a great player, but he doesn't play quite as fast as some of the other players and because of that, I get a bit tentative and I feel like I should have a chance to beat him and let us just try and rally and stay with him; then I get too defensive.

Q. How long did it take you to accept that you don't win anymore so many games; you came down from very top of your career; you started over again; you had to accept more defeats?

MATS WILANDER: It takes about as long as it takes for somebody who just turned 30 to realize that I am not going to be 20 anymore. It is just a way of nature. If you think about those kind of things, you drive yourself completely crazy. I have won enough to not try and achieve what I achieved before. I think if you have -- maybe some players have a great career, but only for a couple of years, they would have liked to do some things different and whatever -- there are things that I would like to do, but I mean, I don't -- I think I did much more than I expected to do and that is, you know, that is in the history now, history books and I can't think back on things like that.

Q. Who is working with you as a coach now? Do you have somebody that?

MATS WILANDER: No, I don't have anyone at the moment, no. I think what I don't know by now I think I am not going to be able to learn.

Q. Hitting partners? You just hit --

MATS WILANDER: I just hit with Swedish guys or sometimes with Novacek. We are close friends and we will try and play doubles and practice sometimes, but I know most of the players on the Tour. It is just a matter of setting it up and organizing it. If I have a coach to do it, then I think you spend too much time in your hotel room or on a golf course so it is a good thing -- I don't want a coach. I don't think I am ever going to have a coach again; doesn't do anything for my game other than getting me out there to practice and I can do that for myself.

Q. What kind of feeling do you have going into a match against the hottest player on the Tour next round?

MATS WILANDER: I think I am going to have to play a little better than today to obviously have a chance to beat him. But I mean, I am feeling like I am not going to put too much pressure on myself to win the match. I want to be able to, as I said before, just play quite aggressively and don't let Andre dominate too much; which is not the easiest thing in the world to do, but obviously don't go into the match thinking I am going to lose. I mean, I have beaten him before, there is a bit of -- a few years have gone by since then, but still there is not that big difference between the best players and the players down in the rankings some weeks, so this might be a week when Andre is not playing at his best and maybe I pull a great match out of myself.

Q. The crowd might get behind you and Andre.

MATS WILANDER: Yeah, against somebody like Andre, obviously, I am going to be, I suppose, the underdog, but also sometimes I think older players are a bit of a sentimental favorite. People know your face and have seen you. I guess they are going to root for me as well as for Andre just to try and get a close match, yeah.

Q. You seem to want to get the crowd stirred up again this match, I noticed you ...

MATS WILANDER: Yeah, I like to get a bit hyped up and when the crowd gets into it then it makes me focus a little more and it makes me realize that it is an important match. Sometimes I forget that how important it is to win the first round. You think, well, it doesn't feel so good, let us just play a few loose points, but if you lose first round you are out of a job, so sometimes you have to think twice about how important it is to win the match.

Q. Do you enjoy life more today than you did when you were at your best ranking time?

MATS WILANDER: I enjoy life, yeah. Sure.

Q. More than when --

MATS WILANDER: I enjoy life more, for sure. I think now I am -- I am, what do you say -- I am playing tennis because I like it. Before it was not a choice of looking it or not, I just played tennis, and that was just my life was tennis and today I have my life is what I do outside of tennis and tennis is just something that I love to do and so, yeah, I enjoy it much more now. It is a different feeling though, I mean, you get a satisfaction feeling when you win big tournaments and you play good matches and you work real hard and you get --- adrenaline kicks everyday from playing close matches, so it much and less of a serious feeling now than before, so it is hard to compare, but I mean, I feel happier, if that is the right word having a family and whatever. True.

Q. When Lendl was 32 he said once that he was finally understanding all the dimensions of the game. Do you feel the same thing?

MATS WILANDER: I think -- yeah, I guess, but I think at the same time, your eyes are open now and when you were 23 years old, your eyes are basically closed. You don't consider, oh, man, that is a great shot that that guy hit, or oh that is a huge kick serve or that is an interesting way of playing a point, I mean, you have -- it is tunnel vision. You don't think about those kind of things. I think now you are starting to -- your vision is up in the stands and you are thinking about points and strategy and all this kind of crap, and it is just a different --- I think you look at it from a different point of view, basically. You obviously learn, but I think you are never understand everything.

Q. But you have a maturity now that you didn't have before?

MATS WILANDER: Maturity off the court, sure.

Q. Who are the people you like to watch play?

MATS WILANDER: I like to watch a baseline match. I watched the Australian Open which I thought was a great final. I like to see when the guys start hitting a few shots. I am very impressed with big service and the shots that they can hit off the ground, but any old give-and-take baseline match is most favorite for me.

Q. If you had to pick two players you would like to go watch tomorrow who would they be?

MATS WILANDER: Well, I suppose I like to watch someone like Agassi against Magnus Larsson or somebody unpredictable like that who has a huge serve, but Agassi likes to rally.

End of FastScripts....

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