Officials with the responsibility of running the Australian Open at the new...National Tennis Centre in Melbourne were urged by an increasing number of top players yesterday to make up their minds whether they wanted it to be played indoors, outdoors, during the day or at night. Mats Wilander, probably the most selfless of the game's multi-millionaires, raised the issue after winning his first match on the Centre Court...with the retractable roof shut tight...Apart from breaking with tradition - and it was the first Grand Slam match to be played indoors - Wilander claimed it gave the leading players an unfair advantage. "If it rains there's not much doubt who will play inside. And for sure it won't be the lesser guys. Their matches will simply stack up." (David Irvine, Guardian, 14th January 1988)

Mix'n Mats Wilander maintained the Swedish stranglehold on the Australian Open men's singles yesterday with a performance as varied and surprising as Melbourne's weather. He defeated Pat Cash 6-3, 6-7, 3-6, 6-1, 8-6 in an absorbing final lasting four hours and 29 minutes to become only the second man to win Grand Slam titles on clay, grass and now a modern artificial surface...Only Jimmy Connors, who was Wimbledon's champion on grass and the U.S. Open's on grass, clay and then cement, previously held the distinction of winning on such a variety of surfaces. When Donald Budge and Rod Laver achieved their Grand Slams, three of the four legs were on grass...Wilander was generous in victory, and said he thought Cash's ability to come back - one of his great strengths - made him an unbelievably good player, while Cash, gracious in defeat, described Wilander as being "too good for me on the day". (David Irvine, Guardian, 25th January 1988)

"Mats is returning serve incredibly well!...His retrieving has to be seen to be believed!...His volleying is so much better than it was - and he's going to the net nearly as much as Cash...Goodness! - he picked up that ball without looking at it - he had his back to it - and he did an inch-perfect topspin lob - a winner!"  (Observations from fans watching Australian Open final, January 1988)

Wilander had a noisy and demonstrative following: young Swedes with faces daubed in the national colours. Australians responded in kind. The sunlit, packed stadium raised images of some tribal festival. The roars of 15,000 voices rang and rang across the Yarra River, the Melbourne cricket ground, and the tower blocks of the city. (Rex Bellamy, The Times, 25th January 1988)

Q: Who exhibits the best sportsmanship in the game?            A:  Although an 80-year-old Swampscott, Mass. resident was touted in a three-page letter as being the best sport in tennis, male honors went to Mats Wilander. (Readers' poll, TENNIS, [March], 1988)

Lipton Championships, Key Biscayne, 1988: quarter-final: Wilander, an exemplary craftsman, beat Aaron Krickstein 6-1,  6-2, 6-0, but generously pointed out that Krickstein had three five-set matches behind him. "It's a bit unfair to measure a match like this by the score", Wilander suggested. "When I made a good start I think he felt even more tired than he was."   (Rex Bellamy, The Times, March 24th, 1988)

Lipton Champs., 1988: final: Mats Wilander, fresh from his success in the year's first Grand Slam in Melbourne, beat Jimmy Connors for the fifth straight time, in the final...on a day when the temperature touched 110 degrees on Key Biscayne's Stadium Court. The top seed from Sweden triumphed 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. After losing his tenth final since his last championship success, the American commented: "I played damn well, so he must have played really damn good to beat me." (Neil Harman, World of Tennis 1989)

"I don't think it's a good idea for wives to travel on the circuit; that way they never have any chance to develop their own interests or personality. They become a possession like a racket."  (Mats Wilander, Independent on Sunday, June 1988)

Wilander v. Agassi: French Open semi-final 1988: If yesterday's events are a guide, Wilander will cope [in the final] as he always does, calmly and efficiently. This is how he handled the situation when spectators squealed their delight at the impressive shots and comic antics of Andre Agassi in the semi-finals. A patch of red clay on the back of his denim shorts and the mischievous grin on his face gave Agassi the look of a small boy who had spent the afternoon playing in a sandpit...[But] small boys do not easily ruffle Wilander, who at 23 is probably the oldest young man in the world. (John Roberts, Independent, 4th June, 1988)

Wilander, who was only 17, a year younger than Agassi, and the youngest to conquer Roland Garros when he won here for the first time in 1982, was full of admiration for Agassi's potential and his engaging attitude. (John Parsons, Daily Telegraph, 4th June, 1988)

"Mats is the toughest to play on clay, not because he is physically the strongest, but because he works you harder than anyone else. He moves you around so well." (Andre Agassi, 3rd June, 1988)

Wilander v. Leconte: French Open final, 1988: Mats Wilander, aged 23, is a rumpled-looking man with a tidy game and a tidy list of Grand Slam singles titles: three French and three Australian. The third French Championship came his way yesterday when he won the final 7-5, 6-2, 6-1 in an hour and 52 minutes. (Rex Bellamy, The Times, 6th June, 1988)

Wilander v. Leconte: French Open final, 1988: Leconte was out of his depth against Wilander. Leconte has one game: hitting for winners, with a few touch shots tossed in. Wilander has several games, and for Leconte he chose the perfect strategy: Get your first serve in, stay back and rally, sharpen up your passing shots. Wilander missed just two first serves in the three sets, which must be some sort of record, but, more importantly, it kept Leconte from attacking his weaker second serve. When Leconte did attack, his approaches were often deep and low, but Wilander passed him regularly with a withering assortment of backhands. (Extract from an article by Mark Preston, TENNIS, August 1988)

Heroes in tennis have one thing in common: they project the impression that they have standards, personal convictions and attitudes that they will not violate for the sake of winning a tennis match...By winning the French Open, Wilander established himself as the top player for the first half of 1988. He is the closest thing we have today to a tennis hero, falling short of being so acknowledged because he has yet to win Wimbledon or the U.S. Open.* But he is grace under pressure personified, wins consistently, plays his best in big finals, and possesses high standards. If Wilander lacks anything, it is the touch of arrogance - the aloofness of Borg, or the conspicuous pride of Laver. It is only nominally a deficiency. (Extract from article  by Peter Bodo, published in TENNIS, August 1988)(*just one month before Mats did in fact win the U.S. Open)               

"He controlled me like a puppet. He plays such a variety of shots. I had to lean in to take one shot, and the next one would jump at me. The next one bounced up to shoulder height, and the following one skidded through." (Mark Woodforde, after losing to Mats in the fourth round of the U.S. Open 1988)

"You very seldom see Mats Wilander querying a line call. He is more respected by his peers than is any other player in the game - which indicates that here is one delightful guy." (Cliff Drysdale, commentary on U.S. Open final, 1988)

"I talked with Wilander at Wimbledon - he said to me "Billie, you won't believe how hard I have been working." And it's paying off now - he's fit." (Billie-Jean King, as above)

U.S. Open final, 1988: As in 1987, it was again down to Lendl v.Wilander for the title. The match built from a baseline battle to a contest of increasing quality and fascination, twisting one way and then the other before Wilander, who twice had to save break point serving for the championship, finally and deservedly clinched it. In that moment he escaped Bjorn Borg's shadow once and for ever. Four times, his great Swedish predecessor had contested the title and lost. The 24-year-old had made it at his second try...In adding the U.S. crown to those he had already won in the Australian and French championships, Wilander had come closer to a men's Grand Slam than any player since Rod Laver last achieved it in 1969...To many, his efforts eclipsed even those of Graf. As one old champion put it: "Look at the guys he had to beat compared to the girls who lay down before Steffi." That might have been pitching it a little strong but it has to be accepted that, as things are at present, the men's game is far stronger in depth than the women's. (Tennis World, [Sept.-Oct.] 1988)

Mats Wilander made history for himself and his country last night when he became U.S. Open champion in the most sensational tennis match of the year. The 23-year-old from Vaxjo beat Ivan Lendl 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, to eclipse the Czech as world no.1 and bring Sweden its first victory in this prestigeous championship. It was glorious stuff from Wilander, who had won the Australian and French Open titles already this year, and now reigns supreme over men's tennis. The final lasted four hours and 54 minutes, seven minutes more than the same match last year, making it the longest final in Grand Slam history in the Open era. (Neil Harman, Daily Mail, 12th September 1988)

Mats Wilander is living proof that nice guys can come first. Wilander, the antithesis of the spoiled tennis brat, begins his reign as world no.1 with his life in sharp perspective..."I know I am very privileged", he admits. It is a reference to the fact that at the age of 24 he has more money than he can possibly spend, a beautiful model wife, Sonya, and homes in Monte Carlo, Sweden and in the United States...His 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory means that in nine months Wilander has become the first man since Jimmy Connors 14 years ago to hold three Grand Slam titles at once. A more mean-spirited man than Wilander would today be agonising over his quarter-final defeat at Wimbledon, where Miloslav Mecir's magical artistry killed the Swede's hopes of joining Steffi Graf as Grand Slammin' Champion. "To win three Grand Slam titles in one year is beyond my wildest dreams", said Wilander. (Malcolm Folley, Daily Express, 13th September 1988)

"He's the best match player in the world, and he's beginning to know it. Of course, his wife Sonya has been a great influence. When you have someone else to work for, it makes you go for it that much harder." (Matt Doyle, 13th September 1988)

If Mats Wilander ran the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), Philippe Chatrier would have fewer qualms about handing over control of the men's professional tour to the players..."I recognize him as a sincere and intelligent person. He is a man of honour, a tennis man, who has the best interests of the game at heart. But Mats has to train and play top class tennis. He does not have time to do much more than attend board meet-ings. I have to look behind him and see who is really running the ATP and then I get nervous." (Richard Evans, The Times, 9th November 1988)

"Mats is kinda like me - tennis isn't his whole life." (John McEnroe, [Autumn] 1988)

Mats Wilander's hometown of Vaxjo, Sweden, hoped to settle on a date during the 1988 Davis Cup final (December 16 to 18) to honor its most famous citizen for his 1988 accomplishments. Wilander's U.S. Open victory in September brought congratulatory telegrams from Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson, and Bjorn Borg's former coach Lennart Bergelin, who said "Finally we cracked the zero" - a reference to Wilander being the first Swede to win the U.S. Open. (TENNIS, late 1988)

One of the easiest, as well as most pleasant tasks of 1988 was the nomination by the ITF panel of former great champions of the official men's World Champion for the year. Undoubtedly it had to be Mats Wilander, who began a year of outstanding triumphs at the Australian Open. He maintained the impetus at the French, where he won the title for the third time, and after being mesmerised by Miloslav Mecir at Wimbledon, bounced back to succeed where his great mentor, Bjorn Borg, had so often failed, at the U.S. Open. (John Parsons, World of Tennis 1989)

Mats Wilander unmistakeably made himself the Grand Prix player of 1988, starting with his defiant and accomplished victory at the Australian Open in January. Having beaten countryman Stefan Edberg in five sets, he then twice found himself two points from defeat, before overcoming Pat Cash in a fabulous final, overflowing with points which demonstrated the skill, strength and stamina of both players. Of the Grand Slam events, only Wimbledon eluded him...By winning Paris for the third time and succeeding where Bjorn Borg had so often failed in taking the U.S. Open crown, Wilander became the first player since Jimmy Connors in 1974 to win three men's singles Grand Slam titles in the same year...He also won the only other two-week tournament of the year at the Lipton Players' International in Key Biscayne...He had clearly added more aggression and variety to his game without reducing his stubbornly effective durability at the back of the court, and during the rest of the year he also won two other titles, Cincinnati and Palermo. (John Parsons, World of Tennis 1989)

Mats Wilander was the leading player of 1988 by the time he had added the Lipton and French Open titles to his Flinders' Park triumph...[and] at the end of a fascinating U.S. Open, it was Wilander who came through to end Ivan Lendl's three-year reign in a thrilling five set duel that, at 4 hours 54 minutes, became the longest final in the Championship's history...Wilander crowned a superb year of concentrated endeavour by clinching his third Grand Slam for 1988. (Extract from "Open Tennis: the First Twenty Years", by Richard Evans, London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 1988)

Best match of 1988: You might be tempted to say "any Grand Slam final Mats Wilander participated in", but the fact is he saved the best for last. His opening Slam title over Pat Cash in Australia, which he won 8-6 in the fifth, seemed a pretty exciting start to the year, but his 4-hour, 55-minute, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 win over Ivan Lendl in the U.S. Open final was high-caliber tennis under clutch conditions, because the no.1 ranking was riding on the outcome. (TENNIS, early 1989)

"Andre Agassi's forehand is not the biggest weapon in tennis today. Mats Wilander's brain is". (Jay Berger, Quote of the Year, 1988)