Insightful Bruguera interview into the pro psyche, then and now

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by !Tym, Dec 14, 2007.

  1. !Tym

    !Tym Hall of Fame

    May 6, 2004
    Wonderful translation of a very insightful Bruguera interview from usenet, pretty much sums up all the recent "style wars" debates and Sampras-Fed can an old dog still play good in isolated instances type stuff:

    Old but good interview from August 17, 2007

    Q: If you had the injury that Nadal has, would you have withdrawn already?
    A: No, I would not have withdrawn. Neither I, nor Rafah, nor anyone
    else, can be sure of that. All tennis players have played injured. I
    played my whole life with tendinitis of the knees. Even now, when I go
    to a movie or fly I sit in an aisle seat because I can't sit for more
    than 10 minutes with my knees bent. And I played my whole life with
    that. And I won two Roland Garros titles with that. Still, one less than

    Q: That means you don't believe that he has the injury.
    A: I wish I had the injury that Nadal has! Rafa is #2 in the world, The
    World! He plays a form of tennis that is brutal, incredible and
    wonderful; he has beaten Federer several times, won 3 Roland Garros
    titles in a row, and it was a miracle that he didn't win Wimbledon.
    Everything gets blown up there, from a cold to an injury to the foot. He
    has a special team around him (trainer, doctor, physical coach,
    physiotherapist) who will make it not be a problem. One can not be the
    number two being injured, that is what I say.

    Q: Why did you quit?
    A: Because I no longer had the mental strength. I was exhausted. I was
    worn out. Suddenly I realized that I had lost my capacity for sacrifice,
    pain and endurance. I lost the desire, the hope and everything from
    getting up to training was like climbing a mountain. It was easy to see
    that this was a clear signal, crystal, that I should quit.

    Q: Does the top wear you down?
    A: I don't want to sound pedantic but you have to reach a stage, only
    those who reach the top know what it is like, the pressure, the tension,
    knowing that the goal of a lot of youngsters is to beat you, well, to
    overtake you in the ranking. Players who reach the top want to stay
    there but there are a 100 chasing your spot.

    Q: After you left, no such tension or pressure?
    A: The very next day. It was overnight. When you compete, you live in
    tension all the time. You worry about everything and everything revolves
    around the sport, the training, the next match. Everything. So even when
    you don't play, you live in tension. And suddenly, Bam! Nothing worries
    you, nothing concerns you. Your knee hurts, well, it is going to hurt. I
    have fever, doesn't matter. I ate bad food, it doesn't matter. That is
    how it is with everything. To compete is to suffer in many ways, so many
    ways. I don't pretend that people understand. That is how it is. We live
    with that.

    Q: What do you think of tennis today? Do you watch any matches? Do you
    find it attractive or boring?
    A: I won't lie: I prefer watching McEnroe-Borg to Federer-Davydenko now.
    90% of the players play the same today. How? It is shots to see who is
    tougher. No tactics, no change of rhythm, nothing left. There is no

    Q: A disaster?
    A: Boredom. Everywhere you see the same game. Nowadays with your hands,
    your talent you can't win anything. You have to have power like a
    cannon, or you better leave. Before, players with less strength but more
    skill could compete, but not now. Now they don't exist, they have
    disappeared [from the game].

    Q: Can you talk about your perfect tennis player?
    A: The movement of Federer, the head of Nadal, the serve of Roddick, the
    backhand of Nalbandian and the forehand of Federer. I don't know of a
    good volley. Federer's volley, it is good, but it is his worst shot. If
    he has anything bad in his game, that is.

    Q: Federer is the bomb, no?
    A: He is beyond the competition. He moves incredibly. Plays naturally,
    almost without effort. Perfectly measured. All his shots are of the
    highest caliber. Even when he makes a tactical mistake, he is so
    superior that he immediately finds a remedy.
    Q: Do you believe that only with training one can be a champion?
    A: In all sports, if you work hard you will play well and succeed.
    Think, for example, of Nikolai Davydenko. He trains like an animal and
    he is among thee Top 10, but when you volley it is better to use one
    hand. I think to be a Federer or Nadal you must have something more:
    talent, imagination, skill, mentality. Because they play at a higher
    level and are great.
  2. Leelord337

    Leelord337 Hall of Fame

    Sep 1, 2006
    univ houston courts
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2007
  3. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

    Mar 8, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    He couldn't be more right.
  4. Micce

    Micce New User

    Dec 17, 2005
    That's definitely one of the worst tennis matches I've ever seen on TV. Federer was doing unforced errors all the time and all that Bruguera needed to do was to keep the ball in the court. By the score it was a beating but by the level of play it wasn't. Also, Bruguera wasn't the same player as before since he had missed the most of the 1999 season because of injuries, wasn't so motivated in tennis anymore and didn't have the same self-confidence as previously.

    When watching the Bruguera vs. Federer match I noted that Bruguera's forehand grip was even more western than ever before...he couldn't get the same depth and pace on his forehands than early/mid 90's...the ball was constantly landing in the middle court but back then Federer couldn't handle those short balls as masterfully as nowadays.
  5. !Tym

    !Tym Hall of Fame

    May 6, 2004
    Agree, was also one of the worst performances I've ever seen from BOTH players. Brgueura was just off shoulder surgery that the doctors said would end his career, he also seemed unwilling to EVER pull the trigger on his forehand whereas before he hit some of the hardest forehands ever. Well not all the time, but he would pace himself go into rally mode, then periodically BAM to keep you honest.

    I think he only tried to hit maybe two or three forehands "for real" the whole match. He also seem to have lost virtuall all his instinct and nose for the ball, his anticipation was nowhere, he wasn't moving well, to be honest he looked like just an absolute shadow of himself. He looked NOTHING like the player he once was. It was sad really.

    There's NO DOUBT in my mind that he's playing better now on the seniors tour than he did in that match.

    Federer on the other hand was definitely not tanking, as after all a name is still a name, and a scalp (even if weathered) is still a scalp. However, he simply could NOT get it together. I mean literally the guy could not keep the ball in the court more than two shots at a time it seemed. Everything he hit seemed to float a few inches past the baseline, it was embarrassing; in fact, he looked embarrassed because he literally seemed INCAPABLE of keeping more than two balls in play in a row. Such level of control, you'd think he was a small college colle player or something it was so bad.

    I've commented on this match before, and the truth is that it's one of the poorest quality pro matches I've ever seen; in fact, I can't remember seeing a poorer quality match between two *non*-tanking players.

    It looked like an error prone college guy who thought he was some "hotshot" MUCH better than he actually is/was vs. some wiley old geezer who was playing handicapped with an arthritic hip or something.

    Honestly, was really an embarrassing match for both, and I doubt either one of them would want you to see it and think that's what they were REALLY capable of.

    Bruguera actually found better form right before he retired, he nearly beat Ferrero and Moya and said that he just got tight in the closing parts of the third but that all he needed now were more matches to get match tough again...then inexplicably he just quit again, stopped practicing, and stopped caring after saying that, playing like half-time only, if that.

    I remember him taking Pavel to a third-set tie-breaker one week near the end, and then the next week Pavel goes on to win his only masters event ever against Rafter, and I'm thinking why if he has an encouraging result does he not play again for such a long time at all? No heart, no will anymore, the soul had already left the building as I say about former top players contemplating retirement. The truth is once you start contemplating retirement, if you have to even ask yourself do I want to get up to do this anymore; it's probably already over. You either WANT IT, or you don't when you've got one hundred others guy who are as hungry as lions out there.

    I also think what Bruguera says about the tension filled life of pro athletes not being fun isn't entirely true. I think there's two kinds of birds. There's guys like Bruguera (or even young Agassi who resented the pressure to succeed from a very young age) who constantly harp on and complain about how the tension of the pro sports mindset is killing them inside and giving them an ulcer...then, there are the Malivai Washington and Kobe Bryant types who don't look at the "tension" and pressure of pro sports as tension so much as they do EXCITEMENT.

    Mal once said, that "it's hard to play a bad match in front of 10,000 people," because he found it so exciting and THRILLING. He also has said many times that, "I've always said there's no better job than to be a pro athlete, you get to play the game you love and make money too?" Well, basically something to that effect. He also said that, "I've always said that the life of a pro athlete is very short, you can only do it for so long and you never know when you're going to get injured, so you have to maximize every moment you have out there..."

    See the difference in mentality?

    Guys like Chang and Washington and Kuerten LIVED for the moment, and guess what lo and behold look what happened to Washington. Immediately after reacing a career high no one would have though possible by reaching the Wimbledon final...his knee goes out on him...after that, and a few failed comeback attempts before his knee again promptly went out on him...over and over...and over again; he calls it quits, a shell of his JUST former self. That's the relative shelf life of a pro athlete for you. Karl Malone can go uninjured for a stretch of time that defies all probability, then bam, he suffers a freak injury at the most inopportune time of his career, his last and best chance at a championship. Such is life.

    There are guys who live for the moment and dread the moment. When Bruguera successfully defended his French title, the look on his face? That was joy, yes, but it was also the look of tremendous RELIEF rather than ecstacy (he tanked the third set of the match because of the ANXIETY he felt in trying to defend his title). Was Agassi winning Wimbledon and finally getting the monkey off his back joy, or was it RELIEF? He'll tell you relief, NOT joy; and people don't understand that. NOW, in contrast, when he had "evolved," second life, "zen Agassi," the balding enlightend, highly evolved budha from another planet Agassi? When THAT version of Agassi won the 99 French when he really shouldn't have? That was, not relief, that was pure JOY.

    There's a difference.

    Btw, Bruguera, when asked what would he be thinking if he got to play Federer at his best on clay; he said, I would be thinking I would beat him...and he's probably right, peak Bruguera vs. peak Federer on clay and it would have been a heck of a match at the very least.

    Unfortunately, there one tour match was the least of the leastest and why you CAN'T use one match to make wanton assertions about who would beat who nine times out of ten, i.e. Bastl over Sampras at Wimbledon...or gasp, Federer over Sampras at Wimbledon.

    Finally, this interview previously unknown to me backs up why I was saying that Sampras "blood condition" should NOT be used as an excuse for him not achieving EVEN MORE greatness than he already did. The guy is a contender for GOAT, and I don't care how sick you think you are; but you can NOT finish #1 in the world five years in a row if you're truly THAT handicapped. It's simply NOT possible. Sampras was a GREAT player, but he was NOT *literally* on a different planet from everyone else. You all saw what happened the second Sampras lost a step and a little of his confidence...he got beat, he got beat by George Bastl. There is soooo little difference between the top guys and the nobodies that it's ridiculous. You can't sleep on it, and expect to be a world beater at this level.

    Bruguera more or less exclaims that Nadal is two in the world, TWO IN THE WORLD! Think about the magnitude of that claim for a second, perspective people. There's a NIGHT AND DAY difference in my opinion between my body could always feel better or be better or I could have been born just a little bit better...and not being able to compete at the highest level anymore due to injury or ailment.

    See Grant Hill and Penny Hardaway vs. Kobe Bryant.
  6. jmsx521

    jmsx521 Hall of Fame

    Aug 29, 2006
    Once again !Tym has proven to be the most knowledgeable pro tennis fan!
  7. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

    Aug 24, 2007

    link ?
  8. Bhagi Katbamna

    Bhagi Katbamna Hall of Fame

    Feb 19, 2004
    Or someone like Jimmy Connors who thrived on the tension and the bigger the stage, the bigger the event, the more tough he got. He saw it as an opportunity rather than something to be afraid of screwing up.
  9. !Tym

    !Tym Hall of Fame

    May 6, 2004
    Sorry, don't know, was awhile ago.
  10. !Tym

    !Tym Hall of Fame

    May 6, 2004
    YES, Jimmy "The Swaggard" Connors, put the bloody basturd in swaggar for me. I honestly feel that probably he and Chang seemed to be in it more for the love and thrill of competition than they were the glory. It was like those guys were born to COMPETE when they got out on the court, and when they did they were just instantly in their "moment." I guess you could call them and Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, the whole bunch of them cuckoos, adrenaline addicts.

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