Tennis

Unlike, for example, the 2007 Wimbledon final—filled with artistry and grit from both players until Federer won in five sets—only Nadal played with elan Sunday.


Associated Press Tennis Magazine June 2008 on Rafael Nadal’s win over Roger Federer in the French Open.

It is funny to see my name (Elan) then the word “Sunday.” Cause in the sentence it reads that I played with Rafael Nadal on Sunday. My son’s name is Rafael. I did play with Rafael on Sunday. I’m the only one in the world that finds this amusing.
I’m looking for pictures of Mats Wilander, a former World #1 Tennis player. I’m told I look like him. I found some pictures but aren’t sure how to put them on the site without a link so here’s an interview. I edited some of the article to get to the point of the man’s character. He’s smart, incisive, curt and enjoys watching Faulty Towers….

 

Sport
Small Talk
Series: Small TalkPrevious | Next | Index
Mats Wilander
The former World No1 and seven-times-Grand Slam champion sings the praises of Bob Dylan, Tiger Woods, and potatoes
Paul Doyle
guardian.co.uk, Friday June 22 2007 Article history

Hi there Mats, how are you keeping?
Very well, thanks, Small Talk.

What are you up to these days?
I’m quite busy. I travel for about five to six months of the year, playing the senior tour in America and a couple of games in Europe, being the captain of the Swedish Davis Cup team and doing a little bit of commentating for Eurosport.

Are there any good young Swedes coming through we should watch out for?
No, we have absolutely nothing.

So you, Stefan Edberg, etc, were just part of an exceptional generation?
Yep. But we were also quite lucky because basically all we had to compete against were Australians, Americans and French guys. There weren’t any Argentinian or Spanish guys around when we were playing.

Roger Federer: he’s going to win Wimbeldon again, isn’t he?
It’s certainly hard to pick someone other than him. But he has to start watching out because he’s lost five times this year – that won’t affect his confidence but it will boost that of others, because they all know now that he’s beatable. 

You said in some rag or other recently that the current generation of players lack the competitive instinct you were famed for?
No, that’s a misquote. They are unbelievable competitors. Where they’re different to us is that they they’re physically stronger and they have more power in their rackets so they don’t need to think as much as we had to. That means they have less chance of changing their game if they’re playing badly. You see, the thing for us was that it was never about playing well, it was about playing smart.

So how would fare if you were at your peak now?
I don’t know. I always feel that if you were the best in any generation, you most likely would have been close to the best in any other generation too.

What other sports do you play?
I play a lot of golf and I’m in a little ice hockey league at home in Idaho …

You live in Idaho? Why?
It’s got beautiful mountains. We live in the ski resort there and we think it’s a good place for our four kids to grow up.

So it wasn’t for the potatoes?
[Chortles] No, but it’s true that they have very good potatoes there, the best in the world.

What’s your favourite drink?
Dark ales, such as Smithwicks.

Can you get Smithwicks in Idaho?
No, but you can get it in Ireland. It’s worth the effort!

You’re not wrong. Now, what the last CD you bought?

[Racks his brains for an eternity]

… or the last gig you went to?
[Immediately] Bob Dylan in Gothenburg, about a month and a half ago.

Was he at his best or did he just sit in the corner croaking like a grumpy old man, as he often does?
Is he ever at his best? I don’t think he even tries to be “at his best” …

So why pay to watch him?
Because I’m a big Bob Dylan fan and I just wanna see him. He was more predictable in Gothenberg so some people might say that’s better but to me, I prefer when he fucks up. …when he picks up the wrong harmonica and starts blowing randomly. I love that!

Could it be said that he has realised what we all aspire to, ie to be good enough to be allowed to be a grumpy old man whenever, wherever?
Well, he’s an artist. To me the difference between the Stones and Dylan these days is that the Stones aren’t artists any more. They’re just musicians, or performers like me.

So you’re the Mick Jagger of tennis?
I’m not doing the same thing Roger Federer is, am I? He’s a true competitor, whereas I’m more of an entertainer than anything else now. I nearly couldn’t care less if I win or lose any more – it doesn’t make me a better or worse player, it doesn’t do anything for my confidence, there’s rarely even any prize money at stake. Whereas with guys like Dylan or Neil Young, they just go out there and say “fuck off”.

Exactly, what we all aspire to …
Their attitude is “I’m doing what I want, if you want to come and see, fine, if you don’t, that’s fine too”.

And what …
[Eager not to change the subject] Dylan’s new album is good. It’s completely different to his other stuff. Other bands just play the same stuff- you know, I respect that too but, to come back to your original question, I’d rather see the grumpy old man!

Who would win a fight between a lion and tiger?

If they’re both full-grown, then the tiger. Easily. They’re twice the size of lions. It would also depend on who’s more hungry.

Finally then, Mats, can you tell us a joke?
A duck waddles into a bar, goes up to the barman and asks: “got any bread?”
Barman: No, sorry, we only sell drinks here.
Duck: Got any bread?
Barman: No, like I said, all we have is beer.
Duck: Got any bread?
Barman: No, I told you, WE ONLY HAVE BEER.
Duck: Got any bread?
Barman: FOR FUCK’S SAKE, WE ONLY HAVE BEER AND IF YOU ASK ME FOR BREAD ONE MORE TIME I’M GOING TO NAIL YOUR FUCKING BEAK TO THE COUNTER!!
Duck: Got any nails?
Barman: NO!
Duck: Got any bread?

Nice one, Mats. Thanks for the chat.
It was a pleasure.

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