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http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,5826674%5E3162,00.html

By JACKIE EPSTEIN
12jan03

PLOT Thomas Enqvist's career on a graph and it would look like a mash of scribbled lines.

He has had so many peaks and troughs throughout his 11 years on the professional tennis circuit.
Standing out at the top is the Australian Open final in 1999, the year he also held a ranking of No. 4 in the world.

Knowing he has reached such a high level continues to provide motivation at this time of year.

Despite losing four matches to start 2003 – his loss at the Adidas International enabled him to make up the numbers in the eight-man field at the Commonwealth Bank International – Enqvist is optimistic he can lift his game.

He said: "Before I get to Australia it's tough to have any expectations, because you actually have no idea where you are standing and I was hoping to get a few matches in Adelaide and a few matches in Sydney.

"Then it's easier for me to say where my expectation is for the Australian Open.

"I haven't played enough yet to really set that goal. I'm taking every opportunity I have now to play another match and I feel the last week I've been improving.

"I think I'm playing better every day and there's moments in matches where I feel I'm actually playing pretty good. So by Monday I will feel ready to set a big goal for myself."

Enqvist had an injury-interrupted 2002 with a nagging pain in his right shoulder preventing him from playing a tournament after the US Open. He finished the year ranked 46.

But if the Swede gets his game back on track, he is certain he can match it with the world's best.

"It's tough to say being away from the game that much, but I know when I'm in form, and if I'm playing well, I can beat anybody in the game, and I think nothing has changed from that," Enqvist said.

"The shoulder injury has been very difficult, because nobody could really see anything wrong with it, but I still had pain and still couldn't play." Enqvist said he was wary of declaring himself 100 per cent fit, but hopes he can delight the Swedish contingent in the stands with another outstanding Australian Open.

"I always say, yes (I'm injury-free), and then I come back with another injury, so I don't know what I'm going to answer," he said.

"I'm actually doing everything I can to stay healthy and I've definitely been putting a lot of effort physical-wise to try and stay healthy. And I've been working out a lot and trying to strengthen myself up, so hopefully now it's going to hold up."

Like Mark Philippoussis revealed after enduring lengthy lay-offs, Enqvist said time away from the game had made him hungrier for success.

"You really feel how much you miss it and sometimes it's actually good to be away from the game a little bit," he said.

"Not four months every year, but sometimes it's good to have a little break. You really feel this is something that you love to do, and I just miss it and I'm happy to be back playing again, and, hopefully, I can play on the level that I think I should play on."
 

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Good luck Enqvist, I hope you stay injuryfree this year and that you'll win a couple of tournemants.
 
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