davis cup doubles/Novak-Gail

The doubles between Zimonjic/Troicki-Llodra/Clement turned out to be the most exciting tennis match of the year. Nothing compares to Davis Cup, not even Federer vs.Nadal in a Grand Slam final…ok, maybe the 2008 Wimbledon final when Nadal won in five sets and had a planet/star named after him but even then the crowd was not as involved as in Belgrade.
In the beginning of the match the Serbian team was simply overpowering the French guys and the big surprise was Victor Toicki who played well above his normal standards in doubles which gave Nenad Zimonjic a chance to relax and solely focus on his own game and you start to wonder why Zimonjic didn’t become a really good singles player. I guess it has to do with his movement sideways, and the singles court being a little bit wider makes the difference.
Arnaud Clement was clearly the weakest link in the first two sets, mainly because he didn’t get enough “free” points on his 1st serve and the 2nd serve is “begging” to be punished and the Serbs did just that. A few years back Clement beat Fabrice Santoro at the French Open, at the time the longest match timewise in the history of the game, I know ’cause myself and John McEnroe had the previous record of 6 hours and 22 min. and I believe their match lasted 6 hrs and 44 min. Anyway, I nicknamed him the ” french swedish gentleman”, because he is not as “flashy” as a normal french player nor does he give up ever or show negative emotions….just like most Swedish players of the past..and it was true in this doublesmatch as well. He hung in there and eventually from the middle of the 3rd set until the end, he was easily the best player on the court. Llodra was the most consistent throughout the whole encounter and Zimonjic looked tired at the start of the 5th set but maybe the level of Troickis game dragged his partners spirit down with his own. A fair result though and a must result for the French and for the fans to see this Davis Cup final go the distance and be decided in a 5th deciding match! Easy to say as Novak Djokovic just beat Gail Monfils in three straight sets, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 and that was no surprise as Monfils tactics are very confusing to anyone watching but to his opponent. It seems like the “top” players are not intimidated by his “show” and Gail is not consistent enough in anything he does on the court even though he is getting better, he still has a long uphill road to the top. To be fair Novak has played two really solid singles matches and not having lost a set, he proved that he is maturing as a “teamleader” and as an ambassador for the sport in his home country so my hat’s of to him!Well done Djokovic!
Viktor Troicki vs. Michael Llodra is the deciding match and I would have to go with the French mainly because of the way Troicki fell apart in the doubles, it should be a very entertaining affair! You’ll hear from me straight afterwards, Mats.

Davis Cup final

Gail Monfils showed in the first singles against Janko Tipsarevic that he is a better and more predictable player with a captain/coach to talk to during changeovers. He won in three sets and the first match on sunday between him and Novak Djokovic could go the same way. Even though I have to say Novak was also very impressive in his straight set win over Gilles Simon who clearly just need to learn how to play tennis inside his own serviceline, volley ,halfvolley ,overheads, how to follow his approachshot ,if he spends two hours/day for a month he’ll be back in the top 10 soon, the question is how did he get to #6 in 2008-2009 without knowing that essential part of the game? Simon will be tough to beat in a fifth deciding rubber if Guy Forget dares to keep him as a singlesplayer the last day, especially if Michael Llodra and Arnaud Clement wins the doubles which is about to start in 2 hours.

Fed Nadal wrap up

Roger Federer was not as dominant as I thought he was going to be in the final against Nadal, he won in 3 sets,6-3,-3-6,6-1, but he got the job done nevertheless!
The tactics Federer used were slightly more aggressive than the tactics of the past. The surface, which is medium speed with quite a low bounds,made it easier to step in and take the ball earlier for both players. Nadals topspin forehand didn’t get up as high and that makes a big difference especially into the most vulnerable shot of Federer, his onehanded backhand from above chest high. By the way who has that shot? Gustavo Kuerten maybe!If anyone that reads this can come up with one more, please let me know! Remember, it has to be onehanded.
Federer used his “slice serve”more than usual,especially in the deuce court and I have a feeling he’ll use it more even on the other “high bouncing” surfaces. Now back to Federers backhand. He “went” for it early on in the first set and hit a few key winners crooscourt, one on Nadals serve on breakpoint,to give Federer 5-3 and he then held his serve to love to win 6-3.
In the beginning of the 2nd set Nadal looked tired and beaten. But like all great champions do, he figured out the “plan” that would give him the best chance to turn things around under the circumstances. He started to “go” for his shots more and even though he missed a couple of forehands he took momentum away from Federer who took a few steps back behind the baseline and looked like Federer usually looks like against Rafa, scared and preoccupied with thinking about the end result instead of staying in the present.Rafa served a lot of “bodyserves” that either produced a short reply or a missed return. I really thought Roger was going to win in two straight sets but now Rafa had me questioning my prediction!He has this natural self belief that he will find the way to play that gives him the best chance to win.Was it going to be enough?
Well it was not. Federer came at Nadal straight away in the beginning of the third set, just like he did in the first, and the same as he had done against Ferrer, Soderling, Murray and Djokovic earlier in the week. This “new” way of playing makes the next 18 months so interesting leading into the 2012 Olympics in London at Wimbledon,’cause that’s the trophy Roger wants the most and apart from Davis Cup, the only one he doesn’t own.
So thank you, Roger and Rafa for this year, another great year in mens tennis and for the future. Can all of you scientists working on “timemachines” please hurry up before we lose these two guys and the greatest rivalry in the history of the game!
The Davis Cup final is next weekend in Serbia and Novak Djokovic has the chance of a lifetime to become a true hero in his home country, with a little help from his friends!I will be watching and blogging during it.In the meantime,watch the ball,move your feet,stay safe and take a lot of chances, Mats

Fed vs Nadal

For the first time this year we will be spoiled by a Federer vs.Nadal matchup in an important event. It’s not a Grand Slam final, which I think these days is the premiere sporting event in the world, this one is a close second. Federer outplayed Djokovic in the semis from the first point to the last. I must say that allready at the US Open this year Roger looked not only like a different player but also better than ever. He was unlucky not to beat Djokovic there in the semis,he did have matchpoints, and hiring Paul Annacone as a coach was another genius stroke by Roger. It’s now really paying of, because the way he is playing now is not only better, it also breaks the rythm of his opponents. He is taking the ball much earlier and coming to the net more often and because of it improving his volley. He was never a very effective volleyer even though he looked good doing it. It’s much different now, he’s quicker in and deeper in his knees and is much harder to pass. So suddenly he doesn’t have to beat you with winners from the back, he will force his opponents to hit the “bullseye”or lose the point.
Can Roger beat Rafa tomorrow? Rafa is bound to feel a little tired after todays match against Murray and Federer is as fresh as the air here in Idaho! So yes, he can and will easily unless he really does have a Nadal complex. But on this surface, which looks medium fast with a pretty low bounds, I would be surprised if Nadal wins a set. This a “big” match for Federer. This is not a “big match” for Nadal, but a big trophy for him, one he doesn’t allready own. On the other hand the pressure that Federer is putting on himself to win this match is unmatched I would think,’cause if he doesn’t win this time around it means he has been beaten by Nadal on all four surfaces in the most important events on each surface. The real winners are us ,the viewers. Remember that Bjorn Borg quit pretty much as soon as McEnroe started beating him and McEnroe often talks about “losing”something after Borg quit, so soak it up, nothing lasts forever.Until tomorrow,Mats.

ATP Finals,London.

ATP Finals,London.
Semifinal:Rafael Nadal vs. Andy Murray
1st set:7-6 to Nadal after the best set of the tournament so far.Murray played aggressive from the beginning and kept it up until the tiebreaker where he might have “pressed” to hard,especially going for his first serve to much only making one out of seven.It must be really difficult to not go for a “cheap point”against Nadal but hitting to many 2nd serves will catch up to you and he nearly got the “balance’ between the two right.Nadal again played his best tennis when he needs it the most,in the tiebreaker.Score:7-5.
2nd set:Nadal started out strong and it looked like he was going to run away with it but Murray not only hung in there,he stepped it up and Nadal couldn’t follow suit.
Murray does have a great game to hurt Nadal.His twohanded backhand is one of the best shots in tennis at the moment when he uses all the options he has.The slice is well disguised and stays nice and low.His topspin crosscourt backhand is the best of it’s kind when he takes it early and steps into it.And on top of that he is also able to “hold on” to the down the line backhand so he keeps you guessing which way and what spin he’s gonna use!6-3,to Murray with two servicebreaks and a really strong mental effort by Andy.
3rd set:I hope you saw that!!Both guys playing some of the most inspiring tennis of their careers.Rafael Nadal wins it in a tiebreaker 8-6 on his 4th matchpoint and he deserved to win as he was in the lead the whole set.Serving for the match at 5-3,Nadal actually got a little”tight” for once and Murray used his backhand crosscourt to perfection to break back.Murray did have a momentary lapse of concentration at 3-4 serving and hitting two dropshots in two consecutive point and losing both and the game.He had not won one single point with a dropshot prior to those two and perhaps that’s what made the difference.Anyway,Nadal is through to the finals of the only “big title” he has not won and if he does win it will be the “greatest year “in mens tennis since Rod Laver won all 4 Grand Slams in ’69…Federer vs.Djokovic next,I love this game!!Mats.

Nov 26

One match remains to be played at the ATP Finals between Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic where the winner goes through to the Semis. So far the tennis has been of a very high level, especially Federer and Nadals levels. The fact is that both of them have turned all the other players in the field into “beaten beforehand”players. Why is it that in the last 5-7 years the mens game have been dominated by two players the same way Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova did in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
Federer and Nadal are not only winning everything, the “other” guys have been beaten so many times that it really looks like they don’t believe they have what it takes to put their chances at 50-50 BEFORE the match starts! Once the match has started forget it,all I’m sitting waiting for is “how long can they hang in there mentally”?
So how good are they really, Federer/Nadal, maybe the two best players of all time. Clearly Federer is the best, on paper, of all time, and Nadal with 9 majors, Olympic Gold and winning Davis Cup and still improving is most probably the 2nd best of all time. Has the playing conditions,strings, slower courts, heavier tennisballs made it so that if you are just a lttle bit better, you are allways better and I mean 90% of the time. Is it impossible for the “other”players to keep a positive “front” because they feel helpless? Or is it that they don’t have that passion for the game like a McEnroe or a Jimmy Connors or Ivan Lendl or Boris Becker? Try telling one of those guys before the match that they are most probably going to lose today because their opponent is slightly better and it’s ok to lose to Federer and Nadal…….why ?.because they are “nice guys” and I can’t get myself to be really pissed of and angry about the fact that I don’t “think”I can win? Looking at the coach doesn’t help, it has to come from inside and no one except the player himself can make the difference. All I can say is:learn how to fake it then! Just don’t let Roger and Rafa know how you feel. Watch old videotapes of Bjorn Borg,show no emotions at all. Or go the McEnroe way, don’t lay down without a fight!! All the best,Mats.

Im done traveling for awhile!!!!

Sorry everyone that this is a few days late! I just came back from Sydney, Australia and a Champions Tour event there and must admit I am a little tired from all the travelling I have done in the last two months. Enough complaining on my behalf. Pat Rafter was the eventual winner having beaten John McEnroe in the final in two pretty “easy” sets, but John was visibly tired from the night before where he beat me 7-6, 7-6 in 2hrs and 15min. Actually the “best” match we have played against one another for a long time. We had good crowds for the 4 days of the event,15-20,000 over the 4 days and live TV. On the ATP Tour, Robin Soderling finally won in Paris, even though this was not the French Open, he still won beating Gail Monfils in the Finals and another Frenchman, Michael Llodra in the Semis. This should give Robin all the confidence he needs to do well at the O2 arena in London for the ATP finals next week. How is Roger Federer going to bounce back from having lost to Monfils in the Semis in Paris after having match points? I think ok. I think Roger is at least as good as he has ever been, he is just not winning the “close” matches all the time. He will be ready for the Australian Open in January, more ready than ever before because he’s not winning the close matches. If he keeps it up, practicing as hard as he clearly is, and if he keeps “the aggressive” mindset, to me he’s the “one to beat” at both the ATP Finals in London and the Australian Open in 2011. All the best and keep taking chances…..Mats…. please remember to sign up at the top of this page with your email address to receive updates on WOW!!!!

Nov 8 back from Europe off to Australia

Oh,to move like Andy Murray,to be as flexible as Novak Djokovic,or as “smooth”as Federer,how about the toughness of “Rafa”,even just “the hands” of McEnroe or the “coolness” of Bjorn Borg!Imagine NOT having any of any of that?
There stands Ivan Lendl! Maybe the most “confident” player of all time when he was at his best,.without challenging one of those guys at their strength.The ability he has to set goals that are reachable,is a talent of its own,and those goals are not based on the “oldfashioned”Be As Good As You Can Be”,no,they are based on other players.-I just want to be the best player in the world,whatever it takes!!That’s Lendl!
And now he has made up his mind to be good enough by Feb.28,2011 to beat McEnroe that night at the Madison Square Garden….he’s 0-4 against me since his “comeback” and I’m 0-who’s counting,against John in the last few years.I say watch out,when Ivan has made up his mind,no one is as determined! Take care,be safe and never stop moving,Mats.

Nov 1 by Mats

Kim Clijsters is ending 2010 as the best and most consistent female player on planet Earth after having beaten Caroline Wozniacki in three sets.I have to say Kim is playing better as a  mother than she did as someones girlfriend,much more at ease,looks more carefree without being careless and trying to use all “her tools” which sometimes makes for a “messy” match,but also confusing for her opponent.If she can keep this “mess” up and actually get even better at it,and believing in it day in and day out she has a good chance to even “catch”Serena Williams during 2011.
I’m on my way to the Czeck Republic after having played “Tennisclassic” in Budapest,Hungary on Saturday.Had yet another chance to play Ivan Lendl,that’s 4 times this year so far and still getting the best of him(who really cares…except him…) but this time he won a set,so he is improving at the tender age of 50!!
This friday I’m joined again by Ivan,Miroslav Mecir(-HELP!!!),Karel Novacek and the only legend from Sweden ever(sorry Stefan and me) Mr Bjorn Borg for an afternoon of tennis in Lendls hometown Ostrava.He hasn’t played tennis there since 1981 nor has he played Bjorn since then so that should be great fun.What a great job I have!Take care,be safe and take a lot of chances,Mats

Oct 25th!

WoW…what a weekend!!!!!  Its five AM and I am waiting to fly out of Philadelphia.  Mats and I flew in from Salt Lake late on Friday due to a fuel pump problem on plane number one that caused all passengers to deplane and continue onto another flight. Mark Macler, who was the coordinator of this entire weekend for us….was there to meet us at the gate. This guy is the most impressive event coordinator I have come across since incorporating WoW.

Mark escorted Mats and I to Doylestown racquet club where we were greeted by the owner of the club and his lovely wife. We had a late night hit from 830-10 and then after a quick trip to the Wawa for a turkey Jalapeno (highly recommended), we retired for the night.

Woke at seven on Saturday to ensure we could get a good sweet before WoW began at eight. This was the first Donnay sponsored event for us! It has not yet been released but WoW will be officially sponsored by Donnay in the next few days! Standby for more information.

We conducted a great clinic for 16 highly motivated and enthusiastic juniors which was immediately followed by two additional 1.5 hour clinics by 16 adults. We ran them through our routine, and just like WoW clinics in the past, pushed them all to the point of exhaustion! Our true reward is seeing how excited people are upon the conclusion of our sessions.

Once WoW clinics were completed, we joined all the participants for a nice private lunch held at Doylestown Country Club. A thirty minute Q and A session followed lunch and they were all terrific people. We will definitely be back next year.

Immediately departed for Cherry Hill NJ (an hour and a half away) for a cocktail party to endorse the charity event we were running the following day  for Coopers Memorial Hospital (The leading Children’s hospital in NJ) The cocktail party was terrific! It was held at a Mercedes Benz dealership where I first met Jan-Michael Gambill and then two other fantastic people (my mixed doubles partner Julia Cohen and Shikha Uberoi who both are great looking girls and unbelievable tennis players currently playing on the WTA)

We finished around 11 and again retired for the night.

Woke in the morning to conduct a great Pro-Am and another kids clinic which was followed by our exhibition matches. Jan Michael and I played Mats and Julia Cohen’s brother in an exo doubles in front of a crowd of three hundred fifty plus. Some great exchanges occured but Mats and his partner pulled out the victory.

That match was then followed by Mats and Jan Michael exhibition match which was in the format of WTT. The match came down to a five point tie-breaker. The score was tied 4-4 and Mats was able to eek out the victory. It was a great weekend!

Special thanks to Mark for being an unbelievable host and we look forward to coming back next year!!!