ATP CHAMPIONSHIP 1984
Almost anyone who has dealt with Mats Wilander would describe him as conscientious. He is a gentleman and a sportsman - both on and off the court. His conscientiousness - in the form of arriving in King's Island, Ohio a full week prior to the tournament - paid big dividends, as the 19-year-old Swede successfully defended his title in the ATP Championship, beating countryman Anders Jarryd in the final, 7-6, 6-3. Remarkably, it was Wilander's first Grand Prix title since the Australian Open the previous December.
Wilander had arrived early to work himself back into form. It had been a disappointing year to date, fraught with loss of confidence and a nagging wrist injury. "I like playing here", Wilander said. "This is a relaxing place, and the people are very friendly." And if his remark neeeded any substantiation, Wilander's 1984 triumph made him the first two-time champion of the event.
But it was not easy. The third-seeded Wilander had two genuine scares en route, from John Sadri and Jimmy Connors. Sadri played a nearly flawless match in their quarter-final, capturing the first set and leading 6-5, 30-0 in the second. A cagey, cool Wilander fought back with some pinpoint passing shots first in that game, then in the subsequent tie-break, and finally throughout the third set to advance to his first ever meeting in the semi-final with no. 2 seed Connors.
There Wilander again needed some heroics in a see-saw battle in which Mats took a 4-0 lead in the first set, only to have to scramble for a victory in a tie-break. Despite dropping the opening set, Connors appeared in control, bouncing back from the 0-4 deficit to win 18 of the next 20 games and take a 4-0 lead in the final set. Now Wilander gambled, coming to the net and forcing Connors into repeated careless errors to rally to a 7-6, 1-6, 7-6 victory...
Given the amazing cadre of Swedish tennis talent, the 1984 ATP Championship may some day be a tournament for the true tennis historian to remember. It marked the first time four Swedish players had reached the quarter-finals of an event played on cement courts, with Wilander and Jarryd joined in the quarters by Joakim Nystrom and Stefan Edberg.
(World of Tennis 1985)