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Kevin Patrick
11-10-2004, 12:03 PM
What was your favourite surface you played on? The fast grass of Wimbledon, the slow clay at Roland Garros or the hardcourts?
John Biles, UK

They all had their charm. Wimbledon of course was where I had my biggest success, but in my younger years I liked clay, I grew up on it. I made finals in Rome, semi-finals in Monte Carlo, semis at the French Open.

Playing on clay was a good way to get used to grinding away and getting a good rhythm. Hardcourts are nice in that you have good footing and I would never slip when I was at the net, but it was very tough on my body - I had a lot of knee problems. The easiest for me was indoors - no sun, no wind, and very good for serve-and-volleyers!

How much did you see of the streaker who ran across Centre Court prior to your final with MaliVai Washington in '96?
Rob Mullarkey, UK

I just looked at her eyes and that was it (laughs)! Actually I saw a lot of her - pretty much all of her, but I thought to myself 'come on, focus, look in her eyes' because photographers were taking pictures of me. The funny thing was that, in the picture that I saw, I was looking eye-height and Malivai was looking down - which I guess is completely the normal thing to do.

Actually it was a good way to break the tension. It was the final of Wimbledon, I was playing a man I was expected to beat - not like playing Sampras and so there was more pressure on me to win. I was very nervous, I thought that it was my biggest chance to win Wimbledon, and it was. Thankfully I took it.

What was it like to have the pressure on your shoulders year after year, once you have won such a major championship? And totally outclassed one of the greatest players of all time?
David Hurley, Northern Ireland

After that Wimbledon I completely relaxed. Such a big weight fell off my shoulders, and my coach got it right when he said that the monkey was off my back. I became a better, more relaxed player. I began training better and got more out of my practices.

I didn't feel too much pressure apart from the year after when I thought about defending my title. In the book that I'm writing I say that I'd played tennis since I was three and my father pushed me a lot, and when I won Wimbledon it was like I earned back my childhood - it suddenly felt like it was ok that I had played tennis since I was a child and missed out on going to all the school parties.

You were one of the few players who could match Sampras at his best. Did you have a specific game plan when you played him?
Norman, UK

I had a very simple game-plan against everyone, and that was to serve and volley and come in to the net as much as possible. The only thing that I wanted to hear from my coach was where my opponents favourite serve would be going, what was his favourite passing shot, and the rest of the time I would just play my game.

With Sampras, it was about his backhand. He would always come out swinging, hitting a few big backhand passing shots and returns, but if you kept coming at his backhand then it would break down, and that was basically my strategy. Once you stayed back and let him dictate the point, you were gone. For me his backhand was his only weakness.

Which match was your hardest loss? Was it losing to Ivanisevic in the 1998 Wimbledon semis, 15-13 in the fifth set?
Chris, UK

Perhaps no-one else remembers this, but in that match I was two sets down, 5-3 down and Goran had two match points at 40-15. He hit an ace and the match was finished. I already started walking to the net to shake hands, but the Umpire called 'let' and we had to replay the point. I won that point, won the next point, broke him, won the set, won the fourth set, and suddenly I was serving at 3-2 up with a break in the fifth!

He played well to break back and it was a shame that I lost but for me my big heart-breaker was in the fourth round of the US Open against Stefan Edberg in 1992. It was a five-set match and after four and a half hours I lost after being a break up in the fifth.

If I had won that match I thought I could win my first Grand Slam title. For two months I would lie in bed every night looking at the ceiling and thinking about it.

How hard was it to keep motivated through so many injuries, knowing that you were probably one of best players of your era?
Doug Gremmen, The Netherlands

It was ok at the beginning because you just think you have to fight hard and come back stronger, but after a while it was tough. I had the big serve so that meant I could still win a lot of my service games when I came back and I was able to find my rhythm.

But when I was out for 20 months with my elbow it was really tough. I would come back, be ready to play again and then it would start hurting too much again and I would have to go back to square one.

That de-motivated me. Two months later, when I did come back, I tore a tendon under my foot at the US Open, and that broke me mentally. Before that I accepted it as part of my body - being tall gave me a lot of advantages. The disadvantage was that I was injured a lot.

You were my fave player for years! My question is who were your good friends on the tour?
Brett, England

I got along with a lot of players. I liked the Australians a lot, Rafter was a really good guy and I also got along with the South African players. I think the closest for me though were the Dutch guys, Jacco Eltingh, Paul Haarhuis, Jan Siemerink and our coaches.

We always had a good laugh eating together, playing football together, and that was always the most fun. The only other guy that I actually kept in touch with apart from them is Sergi Bruguera, but now that we are on the Delta Tour, I see guys like Jim Courier and Pat Cash at these tournaments, and you realise that there are a lot of them that you get along with.

Do you miss playing tennis on the professional tour?
Maakawl Feeney, Great Britain

The first six months of retirement were very tough for me. Initially, for the first two or three months, it was a relief, like a holiday, as if the burden and stress of watching my diet and everything had gone.

But, after two or three months, I really started to miss the competition. They talk about the 'black hole' into which athletes sometimes fall, and I really was in a black hole.

Even though I had a good job as the Tournament Director of the ABN/AMRO event in Rotterdam, and I did another job for the ABN/AMRO bank, and had my own charity foundation, I really missed the competition. I really felt uncomfortable about the thought that I was never going to be No.4 in the world again at anything else that I would do in my life.

I was thinking, 'what can I do that I can be No.4 in the world at again?'. I would like to go to University eventually, but at the moment I am too busy.

You are a legend in tennis and I was wondering what the future of Dutch tennis is like?
Johnny Halshawy, England UK

There are a few dark clouds hanging over Dutch tennis at the moment. Every Monday I train with a selection of Dutch players and try to help them. I see a few good guys but a lot of work has to be done. The best player we have is my sister Michaella who was raised in the Czech Republic and has all of her tennis experience from there.

She can make Dutch tennis look good but I don't see too much coming after (Sjeng) Schalken and (Martin) Verkerk in men's tennis. For sure I think my sister will reach the top 100. After that it depends.

Top 20 is possible, but at the moment she is only 15 years old, she doesn't have the footwork of someone in the top 20, her shot selection isn't there yet, but if she develops that she can go a long way because she has an unbelievably good fighting spirit. She is one of the biggest fighters that I know and she's a joy to watch.

Is there any truth in the rumours that you might play in the 2005 Wimbledon Mixed Doubles with your half sister Michaella?
Jeroen, France

I can't believe this story travelled all the way to France! They asked me to play the Hopman Cup with her and I really wanted to play, but it's the first week of January when the annual press conference for the ABN/AMRO tournament takes place, and I'm responsible for that.

If it wasn't I would have played for sure. Then journalists started asking me about Wimbledon. A year ago I would have said 'never'. Now I saw 'never say never'! But even if we got a wild card I feel I would have to train properly for it. I couldn't just come to Wimbledon playing the way I am now. I don't think I have the time for it, but as I said, never say never!

Can Henman or Rusedski still win a major?
John Hipkiss, England

Tim definitely can, Greg I don't know. Rusedski was very close with the final of the US Open but he has had a tough time lately. I think it was also a mental blow with the whole doping thing.

Tim is still contender - he's a very good player. He's also a great fighter and that is under-appreciated in England. His serve has improved and he just needs to be a little bit lucky. He was really unlucky that year against Goran because that match looked finished before the rain came. Now it's going to be tough with Roddick and Federer with how they hit the ball, but don't count Tim out.

Is Gael Monfils the man to eventually rival Roger Federer?
Richard Taylor, England

I haven't seen much of him, only four or five shots, but when you see him on the court he looks so nonchalant! He's relaxed and loose, but Guy Forget (the French Davis Cup captain) told me he has a really good head on his shoulders and that he is an unbelievable athlete. He seems a little bit like Yannick (Noah).

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/have_your_say/3756696.stm

galain
11-10-2004, 02:50 PM
Nice! Seems a very articulate fellow.

alfa164164
11-11-2004, 06:47 AM
"80% of WTA players are fat pigs." Later, "No, 90%." - Articulate indeed. (I'm paraphrasing, I don't have the exact quotes.)

davey25
11-12-2004, 06:19 AM
Well at that time he was right, 90% of woman then were fat lazy pigs. Thank goodness for the Williams for bringing more athleticsm and fitness to the game, although now they are letting it slip themselves while others are following their old suit and leavign them behind. I always liked Richard and I was happy when he was won Wimbledon. He was the only guy that beat Pete Sampras at Wimbledon between 93-2000, and he did it in a quarterfinal, and with all the other upsets, he had to deal with the pressure of being the favorite after beating Pete with no other big guns left for two more matches. He did it and that shows an incredable mind. If he wasnt injured so much he would have won than he did.