I am a tennis fan who has been subscribing to "TENNIS" for the past 18 months. I am writing to you personally to say thankyou for your consistent support of Mats Wilander. Wilander has been my favourite player for years, and so I obviously had a wonderful time last year with his winning the Australian Open, the French Open and the U.S. Open! I was lucky enough to see all three finals on T.V. Throughout that period, and since then, you have been full of praise for him. In your report of the U.S. Open you appropriately concluded that article by describing his great achievement in winning the title. You asked for "a little trumpet fanfare, please." Well, here it comes! And it is more than a little!...I admire Wilander tremendously both as a player and a person. I have been following his career in detail for some time, and I am delighted by his sportsmanship, his dignity and generosity both in victory and defeat, and his awesome maturity. It is incredible that he is still only 24! I also find him a very pleasing player to watch, whether he goes to the net or stays on the baseline. I don't mind long baseline rallies - in fact I enjoy them if the players move well and hit their groundstrokes gracefully, and Wilander, I feel, always does this. His drives and lobs are most elegant off both wings and I particularly like his one-handed slice backhand . I don't think I could ever get tired of watching him hit it. When he is in form he is unbelievably fast about the court and his footwork is gorgeous. His volleying is also very neat, and it improved enormously between 1987 and 1988. And when he works his way to the net during the course of a rally we see all these qualities, plus his considerable tactical skills. (Letter to Peter Bodo, January 1989)

"If you think of McEnroe and myself as being at opposite ends of the spectrum - one end being talent and the other hard work - then Mats would come approximately in the middle." (Ivan Lendl, January 1989)

I am naturally disappointed that Mats has not played well since he became no.1 for a few months, but I cannot help seeing the positive side even of this. I have always seen Wilander as a very intelligent and human person who is too aware of all there is outside tennis to be able to sustain sufficient tunnel vision to go on winning again and again and again. I certainly wanted him to win all those Grand Slams, but I had always admired his sense of perspective about the no.1 position. I didn't want reaching that pinnacle to change him as a person. Well, I needn't have worried. After going out in the second round of the Australian Open 1989 he showed he still had the same wise and balanced attitude by deciding to immediately take a break and tour the Australian outback in a camper with his wife. I think that's great! What's the point of having all that money if you can never take a holiday? It reminds me of something Lendl said after brilliantly winning the Masters in December 1987: "When you play like that, you don't want the season to end". I cannot imagine Mats, however well he was playing, ever being sorry about the season coming to an end! (Letter from fan, March 1989)

There is too much flesh and blood in Wilander for him to have simply driven on, consolidating his hold on the top. (Peter Bodo, TENNIS, April 1989)

When Lendl became the eventual winner in Australia this year he said something like: "You can never win enough. You always want more". Sorry though I am about Wilander's loss of form, I would have been even sorrier if he had maintained his form and started making remarks like that. If he had, many people would have said it showed strength of character. Without meaning to put down either Lendl or any of the other great competitors, both male and female, who have said similar things, I have to say I do not agree, and I think that for Wilander to ever say anything like that he would have to change radically as a person and would be in real danger of losing his sense of balance. And it would be better for him to lose anything in tennis rather than that. (Letter from fan, April 1989)

"He is extremely happy in his private life. I think he's just tired of tennis". (Sonya Wilander, [1989])

Mats's reign as no.1 might have been so brief because he does not seem to suffer from the kind of inflated ego that makes a player terribly afraid of losing face. I think that many players in Wilander's position towards the end of 1988 might also have suffered from injuries, fatigue, saturation and a desire to relax and enjoy themselves - but they would still have overcome those things because they couldn't bear to think of people saying "Well, he didn't hold on to the no.1 position for very long, did he?" I find it fascinating that Wilander does not have enough of this ingredient in his make-up for it to motivate him when all else fails. Refreshing, too - because once you allow feelings like that to dictate your every move, paranoia can set in, competing becomes your whole life, and you are no longer free - no longer your own person, and Wilander has always been his own person, and I think he always will be. (Letter from fan, May 1989)

"I was never a playboy. I always liked to go out, but I would rather sit with a friend in a bar than go to a nightclub. For me, getting married was perfect. I think it's beautiful". (Mats Wilander, June 1989)

And now he seems to have got his motivation back but is still struggling with his form. In the August 1988 issue of TENNIS you described Mats as "grace-under-pressure personified". That sums him up so well! Mats's career has always known peaks and troughs, and as far as I can see he has dealt with all the pressures, setbacks and frustrations with enormous dignity and maturity - no tantrums, no whingeing, no pettiness. Also, no self-righteous criticism of other players' bad behaviour (and you can't say that about all the great sportsmen past and present.) Furthermore, no player has ever taken so much undeserved flak for allegedly being "boring", and he has been so good-natured about it! never displaying pique or jealousy when crowds have rooted for more extrovert personalities like Connors, Becker, Noah or Agassi. Witness his warm praise of Agassi after their French Open semi-final last year - both for his tennis and his entertaining personality - whereas certain other players have reacted with annoyance. Never has Wilander's "grace-under-pressure" been tested more severely than during the last few months. After the highest "peak" of his career he is now floundering in the deepest and most embarrassing "trough". But has it affected his behaviour? Nope! Both on and off the court dignity and sportsmanship have shone forth as brightly as ever. (Letter to Peter Bodo, July 1989)

"Mats doesn't consider that tennis is specially important. That must be why he can live as freely and naturally as he does. I don't think anyone who met Mats for the first time, without knowing who he was, could guess that he is a world superstar". (Boris Becker, August 1989)

In some respects, Wilander "out-Borged" Bjorn himself. He cultivated passing shots which could be executed from the most extreme positions of courtcraft pressure in which he found himself. He went on to develop a style which induced a pressure which penetrated opponents' defences, without employing the heavy strokes which can carry with them a heavy toll on the physique of modern-day players. Wilander's reading of the game and intelligent play gave him the edge over more brutal players. (Extract from "The Swedish Way to Tennis Success", by Mark Cox and Dennis Gould, London, Arthur Barker, 1990)

Jonte Sjogren considers Wilander's contribution crucial to Sweden's current success: "Mats Wilander's victory in the French Open 1982 was the breakthrough for the current generation. Mats's triumph seems to have promoted positive thinking in many people. It helped everybody". (As above)

In 1986 Mats Wilander won the men's doubles title at Wimbledon, in partnership with Joakim Nystrom...When comparisons are made between Wilander and Borg, there is little disagreement over the fact that Mats is the better doubles player. His greater willingness to volley gives him the advantage. (As above)

Sjogren is convinced that much of the Swedish "miracle" has been created by team spirit and he regards Mats Wilander as the leading light, who has carried other top Swedish players of his generation along with him. Jonte believes that together with this sense of comradeship, or team spirit, there has developed a sense of what he describes as "humility". (As above)

On court, there has been and still is, of course, great rivalry between Stefan Edberg and Mats Wilander, especially when they were both struggling for first and second positions in world ranking in 1988. Yet the team spirit prevails. They have even been known to practise together a few hours before meeting each other in a match. Jeremy Bates, who has played doubles with Swedish partners, has commented on the incredible camaraderie among the Swedes: "They always train and practise together, they go around together, they are supportive of each other and want their colleagues to win. There is no resentment between them, if one is doing better than another. They are very positive in all they do and they look up to each other. There are so many good players. I've never seen any bitterness or fighting between any of them. They all seem to be on an extremely even keel. They are also liked by a very large majority of all the other players around the world." (As above)

Wilander moves beautifully. The co-ordination of his knees, feet, shoulders and arms produces a tremendous power and consistency. The result is a very fine topspin backhand...There is great similarity between the backhand strokes of Borg and Wilander, although Wilander has greater variety than Borg. Wilander can adjust the degree of topspin more effectively by increasing the sweep of his backswing. Alternatively, he can reduce the back-swing if he is rushed. Mats now has a tendency to take more balls on the rise, particularly on hard courts. The characteristics of Wilander's backhand are consistency and effectiveness. It is a very confident shot and he can cope with almost any type of shot to his backhand, whether it be a return of service or groundstroke in a rally, and return it with added velocity. Wilander's backhand is an improvement on a shot originated by Borg. (As above)

The offensive lob which is now much used is hit with a great deal of topspin, and so is called the topspin lob. Mats Wilander executes this shot extremely well, particularly on the backhand. His stroke pattern is such that it is very, very difficult to tell whether he is going to play a passing shot or hoist an aggressive top spin lob. (As above)

It has been said about Mats Wilander that he needs to be playing full-out and to be inspired. He has three great qualities that have contributed to bring him success: consistency, a strong psyche and physical stamina. His consistency was evidenced in his winning the five-hour-long match in the final of the U.S. Open in 1988 against Ivan Lendl. His coach and mentor, Jonte Sjogren, commented afterwards that Mats only hit two bad shots during the whole match. Even allowing for a little prejudice, Mats undoubtedly played a most consistent match. His strong psyche has been exemplified in the manner in which he won over Pat Cash, in the Australian Open final 1988. During the extreme tensions of the decisive fifth set and in front of a largely Australian crowd of spectators, it was his mental strength which tipped the scales in his favour. His stamina was shown at its best in the semi-final of the French Championship 1988. In a test of endurance against the young American, Agassi, it was Mats who better stayed the course. His physical stamina prevailed. Mats has also been described by John McEnroe as the player who "reads" the game best. (As above)