Re: JONAS BJORKMAN
T. Woodbridge / J. Bjorkman Interview
Sunday, July 4, 2004
THE MODERATOR: First question for the doubles champions, please.
Q. No champagne for you yet, Todd.
TODD WOODBRIDGE: I did have a little bit of a sip, but I had to hold back (smiling).
Q. How does it feel to have the record?
TODD WOODBRIDGE: Great. You've got to play mind games with yourself the whole time leading into it. You've asked me coming in the last couple days what I thought about it. I knew it was possible. But you have to stay so focused about getting the job at hand done.
I felt like once we got through the semis, I was confident about today. I thought that was going to be our hardest match. I am really pleased, I think, to get through today. It was a great performance. I feel like I played one of my best matches, you know, that I've played. I know JB played as well with me.
Q. A lot of sportsmen say they don't worry about records. You're obviously very excited about this.
TODD WOODBRIDGE: Yeah, I think for me Wimbledon is the greatest tennis event that we play. It was my dream as a kid to be able to just play here. So to be able to say that I've won more of this particular event, the doubles event, than anyone in the history of tennis, uhm, geez, I'm proud of that performance.
Q. So is that it, Todd? You've done it, that's it?
TODD WOODBRIDGE: He says no (smiling). He says I've got to go again.
Q. What do you say?
JONAS BJORKMAN: Imagine 10.
JONAS BJORKMAN: Exactly.
TODD WOODBRIDGE: Right now my game's good enough to keep playing, so I should think about playing, because (inaudible) long time retired. I'm certainly not retiring today.
Q. Have you had a word with your good buddy Mr. Woodforde?
TODD WOODBRIDGE: He's been up. Saw him on the lawn. He's always one of the first guys there to say well done. Now he just has come and shakes his head at me (laughter). Didn't say anything, just shook his head, says, "It's amazing."
Q. Did you think about it for a whole year coming into it? Is it in your head?
TODD WOODBRIDGE: No.
Q. You don't keep it up front?
TODD WOODBRIDGE: No. To be honest, no. I start thinking about it once I get to here. The beauty, though, of it is that I've never come here and felt nervous about trying to retain a title or defend it. I've always had the attitude of trying to win it again. I think that's been the best psychology lesson I've ever had. You just go out and you go after it.
Everybody else is nervous about winning a Wimbledon title for the first time, and I don't have to worry about that. I can just go out and play.
Q. What is it that makes JB such a good partner?
TODD WOODBRIDGE: Well, I think you've got to give him a lot of credit for keeping me out here, because I've several times thought about sort of maybe hanging it up, and he says no. And I think I play my best at these events, and it's the regular weeks where I struggle at times. That's where he works hard at me to keep working, practicing, training, and keeping positive.
That's his greatest strength, is his ability to stay positive and keep on working hard and playing. You know, he's only a year younger than me, and he's still 25 in the world in singles. That's his great strength.
Q. Jonas, will you comment on Todd. I just asked him. Statistically he is the best in the history of men's tennis in doubles. He won't claim it. Where does he fit in? How do you feel? Can you comment on that?
JONAS BJORKMAN: I think he is the greatest because if you break all the records that you can break, that prove your position to be the greatest.
Obviously, you have different ‑ what do you say ‑ decades that different type of players. John McEnroe was a fantastic doubles player. But Todd broke his records, as well. And I think, you know, the way Todd play doubles, he makes it very I should say different because he's very smart out there. He plays tennis tactically well, especially in doubles.
He knows where to put the volleys, because trying to get the opponents the lower percentage shot. That's what doubles is about, you know. It's not about power; it's about to play smart and use the tactics. We got the perfect example here.
He maybe doesn't have the hardest shots out there, but he's a shot‑maker, and that's because of skills of talent of where to put the ball.
Q. Todd, when you used to come, you look at records. It just looks like, "Gee, he did that easy." That's probably the way a lot of people will look at it. Obviously it's not like that. What I'm trying to say is, has the game become easier as far as tactical goes? Do you think you're playing better tennis now?
TODD WOODBRIDGE: Some of my shots are better than they have been sort of 10 years ago. I certainly serve way better. This whole tournament, you know, sometimes the serve gives me trouble, but this whole tournament I served as well as I ever have.
JONAS BJORKMAN: The best, yeah.
TODD WOODBRIDGE: And I think my backhand's better than it was when I was younger. But they don't come easy. I mean, we have to look back into the third round here, and we were down 4‑3, a break in the third, in the best‑of‑three set match and got out of that match 9‑7.
So throughout these titles I've won, there's usually one match in the tournament that we've had to find a way to get through. I think that's ‑‑ you know, people tend to get that. It certainly hasn't come easy. There's always a moment you've had to get through.
Q. Obviously the desire is still there. You get to a tournament like this, can you taste it?
TODD WOODBRIDGE: This is it. These are the things you want to do. Even when you come here, and the tournament's not on, I came here to practice before the French Open on the clay courts that you can't see under tents, you know, I'm already thinking about ‑‑ I'm hitting on a clay court, and the grass court was next to me. I was sort of a little focused more on the green than the red.
I get to this place, any Grand Slam really, and my level of concentration and play rises.
Q. Hard to focus on the mixed if you actually get on?
TODD WOODBRIDGE: Yeah, a little bit. I'm going to take good form in there and know that I'm timing the ball well. Really just go for it, go out, go after it, try to win another one. Momentum's a great thing to have on your side.
Q. You gave it nine fingers today afterwards.
TODD WOODBRIDGE: Yeah, I had to sort of count.
Q. Seen yourself doing that before?
TODD WOODBRIDGE: No. It wasn't something that I planned or anything like that. It was sort of to my wife, you know, because we've talked about those sorts of ‑‑ you know, winning numbers, that sort of thing. Nine, it's crazy.
Q. Great shot to put on the wall, isn't it?
TODD WOODBRIDGE: Yeah.
Q. Jonas, the Bryans recently have been saying that your buddy here is the best doubles player of all times. Others counter and say John McEnroe is. I presume you would go with your friend here as the best of all time. What would your case be for him being the best vis‑a‑vis John?
JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, obviously I only played McEnroe once. At that time I couldn't see tennis on TV as much, especially not doubles. I could never really tell, you know, how good he was.
But you can tell on how many titles a guy has been winning. In this situation, I think Todd has, breaking all the records that's possible to beat. That puts him in the category of being the best doubles player ever in the history.
Q. Aside from the numbers, what makes him such a spectacular and successful?
JONAS BJORKMAN: That was a question before.
The way he plays doubles is different, I would say, because some is using the power. Todd has power, but he's using ‑‑ he's trying to find a way to play the best shot to the opponents and give them a less percentage chance to sort of hit it back. And he's very tactically very good. He knows what to do, when to hit type of shots out on the court.
That is sort of different than some other doubles players who maybe go more for power, hitting the ball hard. But he's working the ball and trying to play it, you know, sort of the way the ball comes to him. You know, he's not only ‑‑ like, for example, a backhand slice lob, there's not too many that has that shot these days. But Todd has that one because that's a shot that he has been managing to practice probably a lot.
And I think the lob sometimes is a shot that maybe not enough players are using. That's an example of what he does well ‑ you know, he comes up with these different type of shots.
Q. Todd, in this era of power, does it give you particular satisfaction that you're so successful without having those power strokes or that size?
TODD WOODBRIDGE: Yeah, it is very satisfying. But it also says a lot about using your brain, as well. About, you know, ways to negate powerful players is to put them in positions where they can't use their power. You keep the ball low or you get it up high, those types of things. So it's about the skills of being able to put the balls in those positions.
If you're talking about McEnroe, he was one of those guys. He put it in, he'd drop it at guys' feet, he wouldn't rip it. He made them have to think about what shot, not just giving them something they could hit full bore every time.
It would be interesting, though, if Mack played the left court and I played the right court.
Q. Do you think you'd be pretty unbeatable as a team?
TODD WOODBRIDGE: Well, I had a pretty good left‑hander in Mark Woodforde on my team, who won the US Open with John McEnroe. He said he was pretty good. It would have been fun to at least find out and see what it would have been like.
Q. I think McEnroe would answer this question on who is the best dubs players of all time. Put you on the spot, what do you think? How do you think you do stack up against John?
TODD WOODBRIDGE: I think I stack up pretty well. And I think the difference would be that he played on the left and I played on the right. There you go (smiling).
But I don't know. I think it's wrong for me to say if I'm the greatest. My record says a lot, and I'm proud of that. I'm the best that's played in the '90s and to date.
Bryans || Djokovic || Paire || Rojer || Tecau || Pospisil || Chiudinelli || Verdasco || Simon || Seppi || Leo Mayer
Björkman || Arthurs || Edberg || Nalbandian || Hanley || Rafter
T.Johansson || M.Norman || Aspelin || O. Rochus || Söderling