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June 24, 2008

Jonas Bjorkman


A. CLEMENT/J. Bjorkman
4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Jonas.

Q. In your great career, what was the sweetest moment?
JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, it's always tough to pick one. But when I saw the Davis Cup final on TV, 1984, that sort of became a big dream for me to become part of the Swedish Davis Cup team.
And to add on and win it three times, it's something very special I think, because it's something we're very proud of back home in Sweden.

Q. And what was it like for the Swedes to bring down a team that was led by Connors and McEnroe?
JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, it was huge at the time because the interest of tennis was massive. We had so many great players coming up. I mean, it's like almost what the French and the Argentines are having now.
There were so many Swedes in the top hundred. We could pick and choose any surface, and we still had a fantastic team in Davis Cup.
The interest of tennis back home, you know, picked up amazingly. It was probably the most popular sport at the time.

Q. Yourself excluded, who do you think the best doubles player in history of the game has been?
JONAS BJORKMAN: Oh, it's a tough call because I was not part of some of the great doubles players in the past. You know, I've just seen a couple on TV. I think John McEnroe, I heard a lot that he was an excellent doubles player. I actually heard Anders Jarryd was an excellent doubles player. The guy said, if he put the ball back he took care of the rest. Those are two guys that are really good.
But if you look to the records, you've got to give it to Todd Woodbridge. He's got all the records for doubles.
It's not easy to pick one.

Q. If you could change one thing in the game of tennis, aside from scheduling, what would you choose?
JONAS BJORKMAN: I would try to have one ball going into each slam, because I think that's hurting a lot of players. We sometimes change four weeks in a row, we have different balls. So I think have one going into Indian Wells, Key Biscayne. Have the Roland Garros ball go on the whole clay court. Same one, the Wimbledon ball for the grass and the same for US Open and the same for the indoors.
That, I think, would be the best for everyone. Physically it's so hard these days. If you can avoid to change that every week for the players, I think that will help a lot of shoulders and a lot of arms.
And then hopefully I think we need to maybe change the speed a little bit just so we can have some more different styles of players. I think we're missing that a little bit.

Q. How would you compare today's player in 2008 with the best players when you came on tour? How has the game changed?
JONAS BJORKMAN: It's so different. Everything is so different: strings, the material of the racquets, the speed of the courts, how a tennis player is built these days.
When I came up, there was not too many who was going into the gym, and these days you see them like this (packed). It's much more physically. Everyone is working harder. They've been taking it to a different - what do you say - improving it even more from the past than I started.

Q. When did you actually make your mind up? Is it something you thought about a long time ago and you just wanted to save the announcement for Wimbledon, or just the last couple days or weeks?
JONAS BJORKMAN: No, I've felt already after the long trip in U.S. that it's getting tougher to do the traveling and the packing. And then during the clay I started to get the feeling that this is it. I'm happy with it. I was more or less committed with that decision in Paris.
I got a good relationship with the Swedish media. We always talk closely. I said I will make up my mind. I said last year that I will make up my mind during the grass court.
For me it felt good to do it before Wimby, and then I can focus on trying to do well. Obviously I was hoping to do much better than first round, but it's something that has been progressing the last couple months.

Q. In reading your statement, there don't seem to be any hard and fast plans. What sort of ideas do you have?
JONAS BJORKMAN: To continue playing or what to do after? Afterwards?

Q. Yes.
JONAS BJORKMAN: No, obviously I will spend a lot of time with the family and friends. Probably be involved one way or the other in Swedish tennis. We all got the passion on trying to get Swedish tennis back on track. We got a lot of good guys, Enqvist, Kulti, Tillstrom, Norman, who is really trying now to do their best. Hopefully I will be helping out as well.

Q. Are you still doing the magazine?
JONAS BJORKMAN: I am the chief editor for the tennis magazine, so I will continue that and maybe even do some more.

Q. The toughest single stroke? What is the toughest shot you've faced?
JONAS BJORKMAN: Toughest shot? Wow. I would probably say something with Kafelnikov's game because I was 0-11 against him, so I was pretty pleased when he retired (smiling).

Q. Was he the best from the baseline?
JONAS BJORKMAN: I don't know. That was not a good matchup for me. I tried everything and it didn't work.

Q. People talk about the change of the grass. You played all the way through whatever change there might have been. Do you prefer it now or did you prefer it then?
JONAS BJORKMAN: Obviously I preferred it before. You know, I'm not serve-volleying much these days because it's impossible almost. And, of course, it's a mix of all the players are much better, much stronger in the corners. But it's also because the grass doesn't allow you, the balls don't allow to you come in any more. You don't benefit out of a good volley like you did in the past.
10 years ago you had some incredible draws in Wimbledon, and these days you don't. You might have -- you can pick maybe six, seven - not to be bad to those guys - but you can see that is a great draw to have in Wimbledon. But it's not as it was before.

Q. Greatest player of all time?

Q. Convincingly over Pete?
JONAS BJORKMAN: Yeah. I played them both. You know, Roger doesn't have the records yet, but I think he will get the records. But just the feeling to be out there when he's playing his best, compared to Pete, I think there's no doubt.

Q. What are you going to play between now and the Olympics?
JONAS BJORKMAN: Yeah, I'm going to play Bastad and then head over to Toronto and Cincinnati, then have a nice trip over to Beijing hopefully.

Q. How are your imitations going?
JONAS BJORKMAN: I'm letting the youngsters taking over a little bit. They're not doing it as good, I would say. No, it's much harder I think to do the youngsters these days. 10, 15 years ago you had different styles of players, and you don't really have that these days. Now it's pure power and not the same technical difference from guys, I think.

Q. Is McEnroe your best one?
JONAS BJORKMAN: That's one of my better ones, yeah.

End of FastScripts

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