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Jonas Bjorkman, Tennis Masters Cup, November 14, 2008
   

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TENNIS MASTERS CUP


November 14, 2008


Jonas Bjorkman

SHANGHAI, CHINA

FYRSTENBERG-MATKOWSKI/Bjorkman-Ullyett
6-2, 1-6, 10-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How does it finally now feel?
JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, I think obviously you always have a little bit of sadness when you're losing this match. Obviously, we were hoping to maybe get through. But, yeah, I think both me and Kevin felt that each day it's been going, we've been getting a little bit more mentally tired. It's been a long indoor season. We wasn't as sharp as we were hoping to be for this event. The guys, Polish guys, also played well at the big points.
I still think it's great to end my career in the biggest event of the year, even if I would have gone further. But you can't get everything. I've been mentally prepared for this because I'm mentally very ready to retire. I've been very fortunate to be able to play for so long. It started as my hobby, and I've been able to do it for 17 years, which is great.
You know, I'm really looking forward for the next step in life.

Q. I wondered whether you thought it was fitting that your final match should finish in a super tiebreak?
JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, maybe not, since I haven't been really the biggest supporter of it (laughter).
But you also have to accept new decisions and a new future for the doubles. I think it has turned out to be a good success for doubles. You have more singles guys playing. That's what I told Etienne after we changed. I said, I will give it one year and I will tell you that I think it's wrong. But I came up to him and I told him that I think it's better for the game. Even if I'm not the biggest supporter of it, I still think it's good.
I think it was at least better than losing in two sets. At least you have a little bit of drama in the end.

Q. How has the feeling been this whole week?
JONAS BJORKMAN: Yeah, I've been very excited to come here and play this as my last one. Like I said, you know, I think it's a great achievement to be able to play the biggest event of the year, to qualify, to be in the top eight in singles and doubles. That was something I thought was very special when I qualified for the singles in '97. I think for every player, this is very special to be part of.
You know, I'm very happy that we came through. We played great the last six months, me and Kevin. It's been such a great time playing with him. You know, unfortunately we came up short today. But I'll wake up tomorrow and I'll be ready to look forward to the new future.

Q. We all know you and Thomas Johansson are great friends. He told me he would be playing another season next year. Are you going to come around with him to coach him a bit?
JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, Magnus Norman is coaching him right now. Magnus is going to do the coaching for Robin Soderling and Thomas when Thomas gets back from his surgery. Obviously Magnus goes to Australia. It's going to be tough for Thomas to have someone to practice with maybe in January down in Monaco where we live. I already told him if he obviously needs my help, I would be there to help him out to get back in good shape and hit some balls with him. Hopefully he can be ready for February when the European season starts.
That's one of the guys obviously I will miss. Not going to see him as much. But, you know, hopefully I can come out and watch a couple events here and there to have a nice little talk with everyone.

Q. What do you think you will miss about the tour? Are there two or three highlights, real memories that stick out, from your long time on the tour?
JONAS BJORKMAN: I think definitely the locker room will be something that you will miss because, like I said, it's very unique. You're all in a way enemies and everyone wants to win, but you can still sit next to each other preparing for a game where you go out and both is trying to win. I think everyone treats each other with great respect. It's also a lot of fun to be around everyone. To listen to all the trash talk in the locker rooms will be something that I will miss.
That also comes to the Davis Cup weeks. I think Davis Cup weeks are probably one of the best weeks during the year, to be part of that. The whole camaraderie is something that, you know, I definitely will miss. But hopefully I'll come as a spectator to watch and maybe be part of it a little bit.
Highlights, I forgot that one (laughter).
I would probably say winning the Davis Cup was something that was huge to be part of. Very proud to be representing my country. To win the Stockholm Open, to win at home, is always something that you dream about. You know, winning Wimbledon, the doubles titles with Todd Woodbridge. It's the most prestigious tournament you can play, to be part of. To win that is something that I will remember well.

Q. Where will you be in the future tennis-wise? In Swedish tennis there's a few things that have room to improve. A lot of players go to the seniors tour. Will you walk away completely from the game or where do you see yourself?
JONAS BJORKMAN: I'm going to take advantage that I've been playing so long that I can go straight into seniors (smiling). Puts a lot of pressure on the guys. I'm going to do three times a week running now and just get ready (laughter).
No, I will be involved in Swedish tennis a little bit. I think the sport has been giving me so much, I hopefully can be part of helping Swedish tennis a little bit with my experience. I'm actually going to be like you guys: I'm going to sit here next year and interview players maybe because I'm the editor of a Swedish tennis magazine that I've been doing for a year and a half now, trying to create good articles and get people back home more interested in tennis.
We've been spoiled from all the 25 great years we had. I think a lot of guys are now trying to do whatever we can to get tennis back on track in Sweden. I'm going to be an ambassador for a junior program as well in Sweden. Those two things I will start with.
I have committed to play the seniors in Wimbledon. If it's going to be something else, it may be one or two exhibitions but not more.

Q. There is another job available: the CEO of the ATP. What do you think about the future of the tour, in fact, the reform of next year and everything?
JONAS BJORKMAN: I think the future looks great. You know, you've got such a great story to talk about now in the men's game. We had Rafa and Roger as a great rivalry. Now for this year, you know, Djokovic took the step in and has been competing with these guys. Murray is now the almost new prince coming in here and making it four guys competing on what I think are a different level to the rest of the group. So I think it's great to see these guys taking tennis to a new level. The way they play, it is different, and it's also with a different pace. I think with that it looks great. You see every week almost records of crowds. So the interest is high.
I still think that we need to promote a little bit more guys out there. We all have different styles. It is important when these guys sometimes lose, the tournaments don't think this is the end of the week. You know, you still have some phenomenal players out there. I think maybe we need to improve and get the players to get closer to media and fans. I think that's something that a lot of sports are doing better than tennis. Hopefully that will be something they can improve.

Q. Had you noticed the organization prepared a farewell ceremony for you before?
JONAS BJORKMAN: If I knew about it?

Q. Yes.
JONAS BJORKMAN: No. I just saw, once the super tiebreak started, a few people coming out in the corner there. Maybe in a negative way I realized that I better play well here because otherwise it might be something happening (laughter).
They reminded me a little bit that this is obviously maybe my last match. You know, I was trying to do everything possible to stay alive one other day, or maybe two.
I didn't know anything about it before. But I really appreciated what the ATP and the people here, Charles and Michael, did for me. That is something I definitely will remember a lot for the future.

Q. You were talking about highlights of your career. Are there any big regrets?
JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, I think there is a few. Obviously losing to Greg Rusedski in the semifinal was a tough loss because I think that was a chance for me maybe to go all the way. Maybe made a few mistakes that I would regret.
I probably would regret my whole scheduling after '97, because I played almost 150 matches and finished somewhere mid December. I started straightaway in Australia the first week. I got burned out by when Key Biscayne came. If I would have had a second chance at that, I probably would have had a completely different schedule.
But none of my people around me, and myself, had the experience of having a great year like that, playing a lot. You know, we did those mistakes. I could regret it in a way, but at the same time there was something we didn't know about as well.

Q. What will you not miss about the tour?
JONAS BJORKMAN: I think the umpires is not going to miss me maybe (laughter). I've been quite tough to those guys. It looks like since I announced my retirement, everyone got so much more confidence in the chair, have been doing a much better job these days, I haven't been able to complain. But I could be sometimes tough against them. I also tried to give them positive feedback if they do a good job, as well.
I'm not going to miss the traveling. I will say probably the hectic schedule that starts from leaving a couple days after Christmas and goes all the way to mid November. I really look forward to plan that maybe the first week of February I know we can have something happening on a Saturday. You miss so many friends' weddings, great occasions for parties and everything back home with your friends. Now you can be part of that a little bit.
I think the traveling is the one that's been the toughest in the end. Obviously when you do have a family that can't go with you all the time, that is something that's been quite tough.

Q. You say you have two kids who are lovely. Would you push them to play tennis, as well?
JONAS BJORKMAN: That was a tough question obviously (laughter).
I would say, you know, if they want to play tennis, I would not say no. If my kids want to play tennis, definitely that would be great. Max is already a big fan of the game. He plays once a week back home. Every opportunity he has to play with me or my dad, you know, he's there. He can play for hours. He really likes it. I already dropped on the priority list. He's more looking to the Murray, Djokovic, Federer and Nadal more than me (laughter).
I think if they want to play tennis, it's great. But there are some other great sports they can do out there. As long as they keep themselves active. I think these days computers have been changing the whole world quite a lot, and I think it's good to be active and do a lot of sports.

Q. Who do you think will win this year's Masters Cup, doubles and singles?
JONAS BJORKMAN: I think right now it's going to be a final between Zimonjic-Nestor and the Bryans. I think those two teams have been most consistent through the year, and it seems like they've been able to peak for this event. So I think one of those two will have the best shot. Maybe it's great in a way because they're fighting for the No. 1 spot. I think that could be a great final.
Singles-wise, you know, I think everyone speaks about Murray. He's probably been the best player so far the last couple months. But you've got a great champion in Roger Federer. You can never count him out.
I think what makes the best players in the world so good is that when it comes to pressure, they really need to step up and win matches. They have to. It's like win or lose today, that's when they play their best tennis. I wouldn't be surprised if he comes through. If he goes through to the semis, he's going to be dangerous again.

Q. You list the Davis Cup and a lot of doubles wins as your highlights, Wimbledon. You also had a lot of singles highlights. Tennis is a very individual sport. Would you wish you had been a little bit more individualistic/egocentric at some stage?
JONAS BJORKMAN: No, I think I've been quite individual. I've been putting my priority to my game as much as I can. I always practice singles. I haven't practiced much doubles. Going into a tournament, I never practice doubles. It's mainly when my singles is gone for that week, that's when I try to do a little bit of catch-up for that week. So my priority has been to the singles. I've been very ego in that way of trying to get my singles prepared as best possible for each week.

Q. As a veteran player for many years, what do you think of the issue of Hawk-Eye?
JONAS BJORKMAN: I think Hawk-Eye is great. You know, it gives the crowd something to look at and be interested if you're going to be a good call or a bad call. I think that's something that, you know, other sports are doing great. I'm a big ice hockey fan. If I go to a match in the U.S., the match may be pretty bad, it could be crap, but I still go back home with a smile and think that it was so much fun to go to ice hockey, I'm going to go back, because they do so many other things around.
I think the Hawk-Eye is bringing something to the fans to sort of take care and be part of. You can see two of them. One can say, I thought it was good. The other guy can say, I thought it was out actually. It gets the fans involved. I think a lot of those things is going to be good for the game.

End of FastScripts




 

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