Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Tennis: Swede dreams live on for heroes of '84

Gothenberg December 1984 and Sweden shook up the tennis world by landing the Davis Cup.

Almost exactly 22 years on and two of the men involved in that incredible 4-1 victory, Anders Jarryd and John McEnroe found themselves across the court from each other at the London Masters - and probably in Belfast in February when the Tour of Legends comes to the Odyssey.

Jarryd is in London along with another of the Swedish heroes on that momentous weekend, Mats Wilander who coped with the `New Bjorn Borg' tag with ease, going on to win seven Grand Slams, including three in the one year.

"I don't compare myself to John McEnroe even though I won as many majors as he did.. I count myself lucky to have won those... I was a big game player," says Wilander, who is enjoying life on the Legends tour as well as captaining Sweden's Davis Cup team.

Wilander ruled the world of tennis in 1988 when he won the Australian, French and US Opens, claiming the No.1 ranking.

"1988 was the highlight if there was one... it was the third Grand Slam in the year and I played (Ivan) Lendl and we knew that the winner would become World No.1. It was like a title bout," said Wildander, who admits that he does feel all is well with the modern game.

"I have big concerns...you know in ping pong you can't volley, you have to let it bounce and tennis is becoming the same way because you don't have guys looking to finish points off at the net, setting themselves up with something.

"Imagine soccer only playing in the air...it's a problem when we teach kids that's the only way to make it as a professional tennis player. It's horrible."

For both men that night in 1984 when they defeated the Americans will always be special and former World No.5 Jarryd teamed up with former Wimbledon champion Stefan Edberg to defeat McEnroe and Peter Fleming to secure the Cup after four pulsating sets.

"When we beat the States McEnroe was No.1 in the world, Connors was No.2 and McEnroe and Fleming were a great doubles team and before then they were undefeated in Davis Cup," said Jarryd.

Five-times Wimbledon champion Borg was two years into his retirement and despite his success the man who was said to have ice running through his veins on court saw his life spiral out of control.



"He was a person I really looked up to. I remember when I was 16 or 17 and I got a chance to pratice with him and I was so nervous because I was going up to play with the king.

"He was a very nice, easy going guy...I saw him a week ago and he's very relaxed now and he's found his way in life.

"I think he practised and played tournaments for a very long time - he went on tour when he was about 15 years old and I think he was a little bit burned out.

"If he would have done a comeback a little bit earlier it could have worked out well but he was away a little bit too long."

Jarryd is enjoying life with "the old faces" and eagerly awaiting his trip to Belfast.

"I'm looking forward to coming to Belfast and I hope the people show up and we can show what we still can do with the tennis ball."

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