QUOTATIONS BY OR ABOUT MATS WILANDER
This section consists of English translations of quotations from "Mats Wilander och spelet bakom rubrikerna" (Mats Wilander and the game behind the headlines) by Mats Wilander and Per Yng, published by Wahlstroms, Stockholm, 1990. This is a 286-page book covering Mats's tennis career up to the end of 1989. They are quotations from Per Yng unless otherwise stated.
Mats shuts his journal after he has turned a few pages of this private, hardbacked little friend which has travelled round the world with its owner many times since the acquaintance began just before Christmas 1984. The book has led a hard life among rackets, sweaty tennis shirts, dirty socks and grimy shoes in many different tennis bags. Sometimes it has not seen the light of day for months. Its back is broken and torn in places. Certain pages bear coffee stains, beer stains and even tear stains. But it is with him. Always. (January 1989)
Mats has ordered a car for 10.30 on that Monday morning. At nine o'clock he has still not packed a single thing. But then, at last, the usual packing procedure is started. It begins with Mats pulling out everything that he must have with him and spreading it out on the floor. After that he brings bags out and just bundles the whole lot in. "Is there anything as boring as packing? I wonder just how many bags I have packed in my life? Some time in the future I'll try to count!" (March 1989, before leaving for the two-week Lipton tournament in Florida)
At quite a late hour we drive to an Italian restaurant [in Florida]. At first the service is poor and the staff downright arrogant. Then someone detects that it is Mats Wilander who is visiting them. We are suddenly the most cherished guests. The owner comes over and wants to treat us, and when we leave he almost bows down to the floor. "We won't eat there ever again", Mats decides, in the car on the way home. And so we don't. (March 1989)
"I saw the  final against Lendl at the U.S. Open on T.V. What a match! I told my wife that you often stay here and that I often serve you. We kept our fingers crossed for you and I said that you are a kind person and that you are always happy and that your wife is a wonderful woman." (Breakfast waiter to Mats, hotel in Florida, March 1989)
[At the end of November 1982] Mats featured in a discussion about who was to receive the distinction for the greatest achievement in Swedish sport for 1982: namely the Svenska Dagbladet Gold Medal. The contest was between Mats Wilander and IFK Goteborg who won the UEFA Cup in the spring. The jury selected Mats for his victory in Paris.
"If I have to lose a tennis match I like best to lose to Mats Wilander. He is a true champion, with qualities a long way beyond the tennis court. You would have to look for a very long time for a more sporting athlete." (José Higueras after his semi-final loss to Mats in the 1983 French Open)
"Our sport has fallen a little into disrepute during the past year. I really hope that Mats Wilander will become our next champion. With his honesty and his sporting behaviour he is the man who, despite his young age, can give tennis back its proper spirit." (John Fitzgerald, after losing a five-setter against Mats at Wimbledon 1983)
At the turn of the year [1983-84] the World Champion was to be selected, by a three-man jury consisting of former great players Lew Hoad, Tony Trabert and Donald Budge. They could not come to a decision but let the verdict wait until after the Masters, which would be the deciding factor. There, McEnroe had a win over Wilander and got the vote. The decision was not unanimous. Lew Hoad registered dissent. You did not have to be particularly close to the Swedish flag to realise that Budge and Trabert had made a blunder. McEnroe's only advantage over Mats as regards deserving the vote was that he had a more important Grand Slam title: Wimbledon compared with the Australian Open. In all other respects Wilander's performance had been superior. He beat McEnroe three times during the year: on three different surfaces: in the French Open, in Cincinnati and in the Australian Open, he won the Grand Prix as a whole, which included nine tournament victories, and he was unbeaten in the Davis Cup, having won eight matches.
In the dressing room Mats Wilander is sitting still and quiet. For six hours and four minutes he has fought, only for it to escape in the end, and leave him sitting there the loser. A not very discreet official walks in and asks for his autograph. He gets the autograph. (April 1989, after losing a Davis Cup rubber to Horst Skoff in Vienna)
[After winning the French Open in 1985] Wilander won another match. This time against the international press, who during the past year had claimed over and over again that the Swede was not capable of making the necessary sacrifices in order to become the world's best player...Now followed a "honeymoon" with the international experts...and his relaxed lifestyle was praised.
"I am never going to practise for eight or nine hours a day. I shall never follow any scientifically-worked-out special diet. Tennis is not worth that. You see, I am no fanatic. But all the same, it is obviously great to win big titles." (Mats Wilander, after winning above French Open)
[In August 1985] it was off to India and the quarter-final of the Davis Cup against India in Bangalore...[Sweden won 4-1], but for Mats Wilander's part the visit to India left behind a sadness it took time to get over.
"I know that India is a country with so much more than just destitution. But all the same...it is the stark poverty of the people that strikes a visitor. It was so sad to see, and I shall never forget what I saw, either." (Mats Wilander, some time after above Davis Cup tie)
Mats went through to the final [of the Australian Open 1985] without being threatened at all, and for the first time ever an all-Swedish final in a Grand Slam tournament awaited us, as Stefan Edberg had fought his way through in the other half of the draw...The two finalists...were practising with each other just before the final...The mere fact that such a thing was happening was enough to dumbfound the pundits...In addition they had been seen having dinner together the evening before...Mats says: "Neither Stefan nor I thought it was particularly odd. After all, we had sat and had our grub together at the Spaghetti Theatre practically every evening. There was no reason to change that just because we were going to play against each other the next day."
After beating Germany in the Davis Cup final in Munich in December 1985, the Swedes did not take long to gather in the hotel reception suite that was hired for the occasion. "We've beaten them, we've beaten them!" the Davis Cup team's victory song to the tune of "Tannenbaum" reverberated time after time, and now the real party began. Some time in the early hours of the morning the Swedish gang ended up in a disco in central Munich. It was here that Mats and Jocke Nystrom performed a not-very-well sung but very happy song which had as its theme "When the going gets tough, the tough get going"...The sun was gradually coming up when some of the celebrating Swedish team started to approach the hotel. A feeling of sickness came simultaneously to Mats and Jocke, and together they made for some bushes a little way from the entrance. They threw up in unison, exactly as they had done the first time they met at a youth camp in Bastad many, many years ago. That time the sickness was caused by strenuous training sessions in the form of running, in which Jocke and Mats finished last and next to last respectively. "This time we threw up as world champions, at least..."
"I began to acquire a few pals in New York. They were musicians, photographers and friends of Sonya's. At the same time I began to get an insight into occupations and ways of living that lay a long way beyond tennis. That felt like a release. Almost like a need that was at last beginning to be satisfied to some extent." Before, the players' box had been fairly empty during Mats's matches [in New York]. Jonte Sjogren was of course always there, and there would also be a few tennis friends who were not themselves playing at the time. Now it was suddenly completely full, people by the tens every time. "They had flags with them and really led the cheers. It was great." (Mats Wilander, talking about the period from 1986 onwards)
It was during that week that Mats Wilander and John McEnroe found each other - through long conversations about everything from match points and ice hockey to music, politics and the mysteries of life. (Re one week in January 1986 of the John McEnroe All Over America tour, when Mats took part in it)
"I had seen Mats play so much tennis ever since he broke through in 1982. There has always been a lot of talk about McEnroe having the greatest talent, or about Mecir's fantastic stroke production, Becker's toughness, Edberg's serve, and so forth. But for me it was Mats who had the greatest mind of them all. It was just a matter of persuading him to train a little harder and to be a little more dedicated to his profession." (Matt Doyle, Mats's hitting coach and trainer for 1987 and 1988)
"During the presentation I had an extraordinary feeling. When I saw his utterly spontaneous delight I actually became happy that I had lost. I had not set store by an eventual win nearly as much as he had." (Mats Wilander, re his loss to Martin Jaite in the Barcelona final, September 1987)
"To abandon human beings to a struggle in which the strong survive is primitive and shameful." (Mats Wilander, May 1989)
So, then, [in July 1989], Mats Wilander is into his first final of the year. There is torrential rain in Boston [on the day]...Not until nine o'clock do the organisers give up hope of play that night...At 10 pm the Wilanders drive to New York and get home at 1 am. Just over twelve hours later Mats is sitting in a plane bound for Copenhagen, to be forwarded to Bastad and the Davis Cup semi-final against Yugoslavia. He is tired and wants to be left in peace, but cannot bear the thought of snubbing a lad who tells him that he was a ball-boy in St Louis in 1982 when Mats and McEnroe played each other. "I saw your match at Wimbledon, too, of course", says the lad, a little cautiously. As soon as Mats gets peace and quiet he closes his eyes. He is now into his tenth week of play in a row. It feels like it, too.
When the ATP announced [in August 1988] their ambition to start their own tournament circuit, the so-called ATP tour, Mats Wilander was one of the players' spokesmen...He was, as it were, made for the role. With his good reputation, his image of calmness, and his powerful standing with the other players, Mats was the kind of unifying leader that the ATP needed among its members. A friend of the difficult McEnroe, countryman and friend of Stefan Edberg and other top Swedish players, highly respected by all the Australians, on excellent terms with Boris Becker, and well thought of by the International Tennis Federation's chairman Philippe Chatrier.
"I saw him there on the court among the photographers, with his Instamatic, just a few seconds after match point. We could have bought, or obtained for free, as many photos as we wanted from professional photographers later on. But Dad wanted to have his own picture. Taken by himself. It felt great." (Mats Wilander, about his father just after Mats won the U.S. Open 1988)
Mats had certain problems adjusting to the role of world no.1. During the autumn of 1988 he had difficulty mixing with many of his fellow players in a natural manner. Not with friends, but with those he knew only casually. "I experienced my new status as an obligation to say hello to, and chat to, everyone. Even people I hardly knew. Then I tried to be more reserved. That felt wrong too. I had lost my spontaneity. Going into the dressing room became almost disagreeable. Maybe it was already then that everything started going wrong."
"At least I had the best seat in the house to watch a great player at work." (Mats Wilander, after losing 2-6, 0-6, 2-6 to Boris Becker in the Davis Cup final, Munich, December 1989)
Aaaaah, those missed concerts!............
"I saw all the people. I saw Dad, Jonte, my brothers, and all the photographers. Then I thought of everything that would have to follow afterwards with press conferences, TV interviews and a victory dinner. I realised that, as far as I was concerned, there would not be any Paul Simon concert..." (Mats Wilander, after winning the French Open 1982)
"So Mats Wilander who, when he came here, said that it was the big events that really got him motivated, but had joked with his friends that on current form he would probably be at a rock concert in Gothenburg rather than in the last rounds of this tournament, now walks up to serve for the Championship..." (BBC commentator [Gerald Williams?], French Open final, June 1985)
Mats and Joe [Breedlove (Mats's trainer for 1989)] land in London at 6 pm...The pair of them attempt to get tickets to a Bob Dylan concert. But they get there too late and they are all sold out. Mats and Joe listen to a few songs from outside, but then go home. (June 1989, after Mats's quarter-final loss in the 1989 French Open)
Mats beats [Jimmy] Arias in three tough sets. But the match takes time, and costs him a Bob Dylan concert. His meeting with the Spaniard [Jordi] Arrese in the quarter-final is equally long, and this time Mats misses The Who. (Boston, July 1989)
On the other hand here are some that Mats didn't miss...
Over dinner Mats tells us that we are invited to a concert by the rock group Darryl Hall and John Oates the following evening. John Oates is one of Mats's friends and he has arranged for us to get in even though it is a private performance for the giant company IBM...After ten minutes the public has gone completely wild. Jackets and ties go the way of all flesh and the salespeople are almost rocking their asses off. The white shirts are dripping with sweat and it becomes a great gig...(Florida, March 1989)
[After a day at the fitness centre] Mats hurries away to fetch Sonya. They are going to a Van Morrison concert at the Beacon Theatre [New York]...Next morning Wilander is aching good and proper after the previous day's training programme but he is in the best of spirits. The Van Morrison concert is brilliant. "What a bloke! he just walked straight up to the stage and got going." (New York, 1989)
"Guess what we are doing tomorrow? Sonya has obtained leave from her job and we are taking the train to Philadelphia. The Stones concert, you know..." (Mats Wilander, New York, 1989, after being knocked out of the U.S. Open)