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March 14, 1997

Jonas Bjorkman


JOE LYNCH: Jonas is 21 and 5 now for the year. Second most match wins on the Tour, behind Ivanisevic, who has 24. He is also the only person who last year in the NCAA basketball pool correctly picked Syracuse in the final game.


Q. And where are they this year?

JONAS BJORKMAN: That's a good question.

JOE LYNCH: A lot of points to defend this week.

Q. You took care of the last seed on your side of the draw.

JONAS BJORKMAN: Yeah. It's been a lot of guys that have been dropping out of the tournament. Finally, I don't think there's anyone left. I think the whole '97, start of '97, has been like this. It's been a lot of upsets, almost every tournament. Seems like the guys from behind been getting a little closer to the top guys.

Q. Do you think that's infectious? Do you think one player sees that there are a lot of upsets, the players feed off each other that way?

JONAS BJORKMAN: What do you mean really?

JOE LYNCH: Do other players get more confidence?

JONAS BJORKMAN: I think everyone is just working harder every year. Every year you begin, you have to work harder to improve on your ranking and to win matches. It's coming up new guys. They're working hard. I think if you're seeded or not, it doesn't really matter. I think nobody is having a big respect for anyone. We have respect for every player, but not when you go into the court. It's maybe the top 5, everyone is a little not scared, but more looking up to. All the guys go in, we have a lot of confidence, think we can win. That's maybe why we have a lot of upsets this year.

Q. Talk a little bit about the match, what you felt you did well.

JONAS BJORKMAN: I felt extremely well. I was hitting the ball right in the middle of my racquet today. Have done this since January the 1st. It's just been going extremely well. My body was feeling much better today than yesterday. I had a good treatment after my doubles. I was feeling in good shape again. I got a good start. Alberto missed a little bit as well. It went maybe a little bit easier than I expected.

JOE LYNCH: He did save two match points yesterday against Chris Woodruff, coming back from 5-3 in the second set.

Q. Tomorrow?

JONAS BJORKMAN: It's wide open, I think, for all three of us to make the final here. Ulihrach I played in Australian Open first round I think it was, or second round. I think it was first round. I won in four sets. Black, I haven't played since US Open '95. He won in four sets. Both been playing well this week. You can see that by my results. It's going to be tough. I have a lot of confidence to go into that match.

Q. Pete Sampras has said he feels in some ways it's an advantage being No. 1 in the world, just because he is No. 1 and that's a little bit intimidating. Someone like Muster sort of goes out with a lot of bravado, so forth. Are there any players, would you say, that you feel a little shaky going out against or feel intimidated by?

JONAS BJORKMAN: No. Like you said, when I played Pete in Philadelphia, I was trying to just go in and think it was one of the other guys. When you're coming into the match, getting a 5-4 break, you start feeling like it's Pete you're playing. At this time of a match, he's always been playing better, coming up with a higher level. It's tough to get rid of that, even if you're working on it, to just think that it's someone else. I think Pete, Muster is one, even Goran because Goran, when he's playing well, you don't even have a chance to hit the ball back. He's just going to hit boomers all over the courts. I think those three guys, maybe Chang as well, is up there.

Q. A follow-up. How about Boris, and has Andre lost his edge in that way?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Andre's been losing a lot of matches. That helps all the other guys, even if I haven't beaten him. I still see that if other guys can beat him, I can beat him. I think that's respect to losing a little bit. Pete, is 35-0 on hardcourt, it's definitely tougher to play him when you see that he's winning every single time. When Andre is losing a lot, you see opportunity.

Q. And Boris has been injured, but when he's healthy?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Boris is a lot of times injured. You can never really know how good he is. Indoors, he's probably one of the best ones, definitely, when he's on top of his level. There's always a chance against the guys, even the top 5. You always have a chance.

Q. I wanted to ask one question about Swedish tennis. You probably get this quite a bit. What are the one or two things why Sweden, with a population of eight or nine million, has done so well in tennis season after season, player after player?

JONAS BJORKMAN: It's nice that you think we're doing well at least because the media back home don't think we do well. They see the difference. We don't have five guys in the Top 10 anymore. We think we have an extremely good team. I think we have ten guys in the top 100 almost. I think back home in the clubs we're playing for we have a really good organization. We have practice, coaches, trainers, everything. It's really tough back home because it's not easy to get sponsors, contracts with racquets or whatever. You have to work so hard to get up to that level. I think it's a big competition back home, makes that we coming up with new guys all the time. I think organization in the tennis clubs is definitely one of the keys.

Q. And your final two picks for the NCAA this year?

JONAS BJORKMAN: It's Utah against Kansas, Kansas to win.

Q. I have the same pick.

JONAS BJORKMAN: Haven't seen you before, but it looks like we have exactly the same mind.

Q. Jan Apell, is he finished playing now?

JONAS BJORKMAN: No. He actually was in Scottsdale. Like you know, he's been having a lot of problems with his shoulder. I think he done three surgeries in his shoulder. He is on his way back. We've been trying to get him out from Sweden. He's been back home for a year and a half. Just to get out, get motivation, to meet all the other guys, start practice with us. He was in Scottsdale for a week. He's coming down to Monte-Carlo the week before practicing with me and Nicklas. He's on his way back, but he want to take it slowly, give it a last try.

Q. He can play?

JONAS BJORKMAN: He's hitting the ball. He's not hitting any serves. He's just throwing the ball so far. Maybe in two weeks he can start to hit some serves. By Monte-Carlo he's ready to practice with us. He's one of my best friends since when I came up on the Tour. We started to play well together. Hopefully he can be back. He's nice.

Q. Does it motivate you at all seeing the bad luck he's had, make you appreciate?

JONAS BJORKMAN: I'd like to see him back last week. I'm talking to him by phone every week, even twice a week. To see him back, I was feeling better. You can hear when you're talking to him, it's tough to be back home and see we playing, we do good results. He want to be a part of that, be part of the Davis Cup team again. Hopefully he could be back with the boys.

Q. Was it just a really bad injury?

JONAS BJORKMAN: The problem was they didn't find like the problem he had. First two times they were working on taking away a nerve. That was not the problem. Do you say capsule, this one here?

JOE LYNCH: Rotator?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Rotator, that one was almost broken. They finally saw that the third time. They took care of it. If they would have done that the first time, he maybe would have been back a long time ago. That's the way it works sometimes.

JOE LYNCH: Anything else for Jonas? He'll be playing doubles shortly. Thank you.


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