Mats Wilander

MATS WILANDER (SWEDEN)

Born: 22/8/1964

Australian Open 1983,1984,1988

French Open 1982,1985,1988

US Open 1988

Mats Wilander was a great player to watch when at his peak. He had smooth rhythmical groundstrokes, was master at the lob, quick around the court and was a great match player. Wilander was one of only five men to win Grand Slam singles titles on three different surfaces (the others were Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer) and he and Nadal are the only men to win at least two Grand Slam singles titles on each of the three surfaces. 17 year old Wilander outlasted some of the finest clay courters in the world to take the 1982 French Open. In the fourth round he beat Ivan Lendl in a gruelling five setter, before four set victories over Vitas Gerulaitis and Jose-Luis Clerc. In the final he outlasted former champion Guillermo Vilas 1-6,7-6,6-0,6-4. Defending his French title in 1983 Wilander beat John McEnroe in four sets in the quarters and Jose Higueras in the semis. In the final, though, he was beaten in straight sets by home favourite Yannick Noah. Then he was off down under to play in the 1983 Australian Open, held on the grass of the Kooyong Stadium in Melbourne. He beat defending champion Johan Kriek in the quarters, grass court expert John McEnroe in four sets in the semis and Lendl in the final in straight sets to claim his second Grand Slam title. At the 1984 French Open Wilander gained revenge over Noah in a marathon five set quarter final before losing tamely to Lendl in the semis. Wilander regained some pride by defending his Australian title later in the year beating Stefan Edberg in the quarters, Kriek in the semis and Kevin Curren in four sets in the final. At the 1985 French Open Wilander beat McEnroe in straight sets in the semis and Lendl in four sets in the final. In the semis of the U.S. Open he met the home town boy John McEnroe, and McEnroe beat him in five sets. Wilander failed to make it a hat trick of Australian titles when he lost in the final to Edberg in straight sets. At the French Open in 1987 Wilander beat Noah and Becker before losing in four sets in the final to Lendl. At Wimbledon he reached the quarters for the first time but found Pat Cash in irresistible form. At the U.S. Open he beat Mecir and Edberg before going down to Lendl in a long, gruelling four set final. In January 1988, on the new hard court surface at Flinders Park, Wilander took his third Australian Open title. He survived an epic semi final against Stefan Edberg before winning a cliff hanging final against home favourite Pat Cash 6-3,6-7,3-6,6-1,8-6. Then he won his third French Open title at Roland Garros beating 18 year old Andre Agassi in the semis in five sets and home favourite Henri Leconte in a one sided final. He again reached the quarters at Wimbledon but was totally overwhelmed by Miloslav Mecir. At the U.S. Open he made it through to the final, where he faced arch-rival Lendl, in a match that would decide the number one ranking. In one of the all time classic matches Wilander finally subdued Lendl in a match spanning well over four hours 6-4,4-6,6-3,5-7,6-4. Wilander had finally achieved the number one ranking and was the number one player for 1988. But it was here, when at the very height of his powers, that Wilander's career went into irrevocable decline. "Approximately ten minutes after beating Lendl in the U.S. Open final I stopped enjoying the game", says Wilander. 1989 was a year that Wilander would want to forget. The first signs of Wilander's decline showed at the Australian Open, where he was beaten in the second round by Ramesh Krishnan. Then he lost to Andrei Chesnokov in the quarter finals at the French, was beaten in the quarters of Wimbledon by John McEnroe and went out in the second round of the U.S. He failed to pick up a single title all year and plummeted from first to thirteenth in the rankings by the end of the year. Wilander beat Becker in straight sets in the quarters of the 1990 Australian Open but was totally overwhelmed by Edberg in the semis. After a second round defeat in the 1991 French Open Wilander emulated what Borg had done a decade before by announcing his retirement at the age of 26. But, unlike Borg, Wilander was soon to return. He took a wild card into the 1993 U.S. Open and reached the third round, winning a marathon match with Mikael Pernfors before losing to Cedric Pioline. His enthusiasm for the game had returned and he claimed his aim was to "compete rather than win". Wilander fared even better at the 1994 Australian Open, where he led Mal Washington by two sets to one in the fourth round, before losing in five. Age finally caught up with the 32-year-old Swede in 1996 and he retired at the end of the year. After retiring from the main tour, Wilander played on the senior tour and coached Marat Safin for a short time. Later he became a television commentator and Sweden's Davis Cup Captain.

GRAND SLAM TENNIS ARCHIVE

HEAD TO HEAD Win-Loss: A.Agassi 1-1, B.Becker 3-0, P.Cash 1-4, S.Edberg 3-2, V.Gerulaitis 1-0, A.Gomez 1-0, J.Kriek 3-0, I.Lendl 4-5, J.McEnroe 3-2, Y.Noah 2-1, P.Sampras 0-1, R.Tanner 1-1, B.Teacher 0-1, G.Vilas 1-0

Mats Wilander's Grand Slam record

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