Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson is serving as first alternate in Shanghai this week. The friendly Swede responded to your emails before he stepped in for the injured Andre Agassi Friday, when he played Roger Federer.
When touring all over the world, what's the one thing that you try to do in each city? (e.g. try local dishes, visit pubs, ...) Or is all your time spent on training and practice?
You spend a lot of time practicing and being on-site, especially this week because I have to be here for all the matches in case someone gets injured and I need to play as the alternate. If I go to an interesting city like Rome, Paris or Shanghai I try to do some sightseeing when I have some spare time. I've walked around the city in Shanghai and played some tennis with the vice mayor. If I had more time I'd visit some temples here.
Do you think that serve and volley play on a consistent basis is going to become non-existent on the pro tour in the near future?
- Justin Toth, Michigan
It's pretty tough to play serve and volley these days, even indoors because the courts aren't as quick as they used to be. When Rafter played he was so good. The guys who are really, really good, they may be able to overcome the slow courts, but you'll still see mainly baseliners, I think.
If you were given the opportunity to play each of the greats that have played over the years , each in one match with the other player playing at their peak, and you were to win, who would you consider your greatest win to be over. The choice is Borg, McEnroe, Connors, Sampras, Agassi, Becker, Wilander, Edberg, Lendl, Laver, Rosewall, Hoad, Tilden and Budge. I know you've already had a win over Sampras and Becker.
- William & Maria McKinnon, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
I would pick McEnroe or Borg. Borg was a little before my time, but McEnroe was one of my favorites. It's always interesting to see how he acts on the court. He has such good hands.
I am Dino from Singapore. I'd just like to know whether you feel any pressure to win another Grand Slam now that you have won one already. Are you scared of a possibility that you might never win another Slam, like Chang?
After I won in Melbourne the pressure is different than before, both for myself and the press in Sweden. It's very difficult to win a Grand Slam - to win seven matches in two weeks against the best players in the world. If I play my best tennis I think I have a shot of winning another one at the Australian Open, Wimbledon or the US Open. But I'm getting old … Still, it's great to have at least one.
Who is your best friend on the tour? Do you plan to play some more doubles next year? If so who would you play with?
-Christina (Brisbane, Australia)
The Swedes are all good friends. Enqvist is a very, very good friend, as is Norman and Bjorkman. I spend more time with Jonas because my girlfriend (Gisella) and his wife (Petra) are very good friends. I've known both Thomas and Magnus longer, because we're in the same age group. Yes, I will try to play more doubles next year, probably with a Swede. One reason is for Davis Cup. We've lost Nicklas Kulti and Mikael Tillstrom, so we don't have many good doubles players any more. We have Jonas, of course, but he has to have a partner.
What will you do once you leave China after this year-ending tournament? Vacation? Practice?
I'm going on holiday to South Africa. We went there last year on Safari and were in Cape Town for two days. We'll go on Safarai again and then to Cape Town for six days. We're going to visit (former player) Gary Muller and his fiancée.
What do you do in your free time? Do you have any hobbies?
I just bought a DVD player and I also travel with my computer. I surf the internet to stay in touch with what is going on back home in Sweden and around the world. I'm crazy about going to the movies. I also try to spend time with my friends.
Do you plan to play the annual hockey exhibition with tennis players in December?
- Linda (USA)
Yes, every year for the past five years we've had ice hockey matches. The first match is against the Swedish golfers. We haven't heard from them this year, so I'm not sure if that's on. But the players will play against the coaches - and it's going to be rough. We normally play sometime between December 15-20.
How is it to be an alternate? You maybe have time to do some sightseeing but you still hope that someone pulls out...is it fun ?
I hope that everyone stays healthy, but if not, I'm ready to play. This is the first time I'm in the Masters Cup. You have a chance to see great tennis and Shanghai is a nice city. The tough thing is to be here all the time when you may not play.
Injured Johansson doubtful for Australian Open defence
STOCKHOLM, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Sweden's Thomas Johansson is
uncertain if he will be fit in time to
defend his Australian Open title in January next year as he is
struggling with a knee injury.
"The plan is for me to play, but it's not 100 percent certain,"
Johansson told Swedish news agency TT on
The 28-year-old, who secured the first Swedish Grand Slam win in
almost a decade in Melbourne early this
year, has struggled with the injury for the last six months and has
not trained since replacing Andre Agassi in
the last group stage game at the Masters in Shanghai in November.
"Often the problems come after the match, the knee feels completely
stiff," said Johansson, who has already
missed the U.S Open this year because of a shoulder injury.
"The doctors think there is a connection between the injuries.
Since I'm short I use my legs a lot in the serve.
When the knee got bad I had to put more power into the shoulder