by Mauro Cappiello
The second part of our English anticipations of "När vi var bäst", the book on the Golden Age of Swedish tennis, is focused on Mats Wilander.
Mats Wilander at the French Open in 1982
The excerpt from the chapter "Nice guys always win", that you can download at the link below, mainly deals with Sweden's second Davis Cup triumph, taken in 1984 at the Scandinavium in Gothenburg against the powerful American team of world number 1 John McEnroe and number 2 Jimmy Connors.
Revealing some interesting behind-the-stage episodes, authors Mats Holm and Ulf Roosvald identify the key of Sweden's growing success in team spirit. Against a US side undermined by internal rivalries and dislikes, the "gang of the nice guys", made up by three top ten players and an 18-year-old Stefan Edberg, had an unexpectedly easy way to victory.
Sweden was no longer a one-man team, as nine years before with Borg. Björn had shown the way to his followers, a group of buddies in which Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander had a role of "first among equals".
Mats Wilander beats Ivan Lendl in the US Open 1988 final
As described in the book, Wilander was an analytic player, but...
...full of contradictions. On the one hand, he had – and still has – a fundamental belief in himself and his style of playing tennis. It was that side of him that always impressed his opponents and fellow players: his way of never backing down from a challenge, his way of trusting himself in critical situations. On the other hand, he was easily impressed by others’ talents and technique, and he could then see – and address – the flaws in his own.
Mats needed to explain rationally anything happening during his matches. That's why he was often surprised by unpredictable opponents, especially if they were fellow Swedes and younger than him or behind him in the ranking, just like Stefan Edberg.
In that 1984, Wilander had met Stefan at his first important final on the Tour. Stefan had won easily. The same had happened with Henrik Sündström (who beat McEnroe in the Davis Cup final) at Monte Carlo.
But these slumps could never turn his compatriots into his rivals. There were no enemies in that Swedish team and that spirit would pave the way to years of glory.
|"När vi var bäst" |
by Mats Holm and Ulf Roosvald
published by Offside
pp. 276, kr225 (€26 - US$33)
Purchase the book in Swedish»
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