An interview with Thomas Enqvist by Bruno Cuaz, September 1995

Q. Your coming into the top ten is a new succes for swede tennis. Can you explain why three Swede reached the first place (Borg, Wilander and Edberg)?
THOMAS ENQVIST: I think that Borg's success was the starting. He was such a star in Sweden, such an extraordinary champion that tennis really began to matter. Everyone wanted to play tennis, it was tennis fever!

Q. Do you remerber this time? Because you were pretty young...
THOMAS ENQVIST: I don't remember the start of its career but rather the end. Then there were Wilander, Nyström, Edberg and many others. Tennis was really popular. There was a lot of tennis at television. The sport was improved.

Q. Do you think that Swede have particular dower for tennis?
THOMAS ENQVIST: I think that we have good coaches for children. But I don't think we have special dower.

Q. Is there a special device set for childs' training?
THOMAS ENQVIST: I don't think there's really a device. It's only our instruction which is high quality.

Q. And you, in which circumstances did you start to play tennis?
THOMAS ENQVIST: My family was fond of sport and my elder brother, Torbjörn, was already playing tennis. I have begun very early. I have also practised other sports. I played football a lot. At the beginning, I was playing at my grand-mother during the summer. She lived close by a club.

Q. Were you able to play tennis at school?
THOMAS ENQVIST: No, not really. But some days, our lessons ended early so I was able to play in a club. It's the way I began.

Q. What was your first club?
THOMAS ENQVIST: The Farsta Tennis Klub.

Q. You have talked of your elder brother who has played before you. Did he reach a good rank?
THOMAS ENQVIST: Yes, not bad. He was one the ten best players of Stockholm. He played three years in the United-States at the South Methodist University (Texas).

Q. Is he still involved in your career?
THOMAS ENQVIST: Yes. He was with me during Flushing Meadow [95]. He often go with me on the American tour to support me. He likes travels.

Q. Do you still practise together?
THOMAS ENQVIST: No, he doesn't play now.

Q. You have spoken of Borg as the man who enable Tennis to improve. Was he an idol for you?
THOMAS ENQVIST: Oh yes. I was a fan. I was watching all matches on TV.

Q. Do you remember a final particularly?
THOMAS ENQVIST: No, not especially.

Q. Were you present at Stockholm Open?
THOMAS ENQVIST: Yes. Every year. But I was fan of all sports. I was watching football or hockey matches too.

Q. Had you the opportunity to meet Björn Borg?
THOMAS ENQVIST: Yes. I practised several times with him. Perhaps five or six times during last three years. It was very nice to play with him. He's always an excellent player.

Q. What was your first outstanding victory?
THOMAS ENQVIST: We have a competition called "Donald Duck Cup" for the childs. I won it at eleven years old in the twelve years and more rating. It was my first great victory.

Q. You stayed number one in all categories...
THOMAS ENQVIST: Yes. All the more I almost played with players aged of one year more than me.

Q. At 14 years old, you became European Champion too. Do you remember something about this competition?
THOMAS ENQVIST: Yes. We had a quite strong year. I've beaten Medvedev in semi-finals and Kucera in Finale. There were Berasategui, Corretja, Kafelnikov, Prinosil too. It's amazing to see them again on the tour.

Q. You became Junior World Champion after having won Australian Open and Wimbledon. How did the transition with pro tour happened?
THOMAS ENQVIST: There's an huge difference between junior and pro tour. I knew it in winning these tournaments. Hopefully I was able to get into a team coached by Martin Bohm with Magnus Larsson and Nicklas Kulti. It was a great luck for me because I had just left the school and I was able to play a whole year at once. It was very important for me. I was practising a lot with them. I became a better player. My classification has been improved.

Q. It was a team sponsored by "Beckers", a paint society.
THOMAS ENQVIST: Yes. Exactly. The team benefited from the Swede Federation too.

Q. What is so difficult on the pro tour?
THOMAS ENQVIST: The huge difference is you have never easy matches. Even in the first rounds. It's possible to lose five or six weeks in succession in the first round. The level is very high and it's possible to encounter an excellent player at the first qualifying round or at the first round of a Grand Slam tournament. You have always to play at your best to win.

Q. You said your family was fond of sports. Is your parents' profession in keeping with sport?
THOMAS ENQVIST: No, my father is engineer in a aerial televison factory and my mother is an accountant. And, in addition of my brother, I have a younger sister who is not specialy interested in sport.

Q. Was there any significant evolution in your game since your junior years?
THOMAS ENQVIST: It's sure you change many things but your style of play stays basically the same. You have to change all your strikes to gain more power. I likewise improved a lot my displacement. My serve is more diversified. I think more about the game also. By dint of playing matches, you improve your tactical understanding. When I was young, I was trying to make the ball go over the net, thinking that hopefully I was able to win the point. It wasn't purposeful.

Q. Anyone tryed to make you change your two hands backhand?
THOMAS ENQVIST: No! (smiling).

Q. Your father wasn't playing tennis so who taught you game's basis?
THOMAS ENQVIST: I had two excellent teachers at the Farsta Klub, Bernt Lundahl and Lars Hamberg. Mister Lundhal was fond of technique. I remember I wasn't making many games or sets. He's very concerned about exactness of technique. Besides, he often write in tennis magazines.

Q. Is there any other players who come from the same club as you?
THOMAS ENQVIST: No, not in this first club but at Trollbackens where I went at 14, there were Conny Falk - he plays many tournaments in France -, Per Henricksson, Peter Carlsson. Moreover, I came there for this. It was a higher level.

Q. You went in for other sports, which sports?
THOMAS ENQVIST: Especially football. A little of hockey. Collective sports. I didn't concentrate utterly on tennis before 14 or 15. I think it's better for childs.

Q. Was there a match or a tournament which was determining for your career's run?
THOMAS ENQVIST: No, I don't think. It was a gradual progress. Of course, there ware very cheerful matches but the problem is that you must be consistent, you must link up victories.

Q. You are a slender player. Had you physical hitches?
THOMAS ENQVIST: No. Not before last year [94]

Q. You suffered from tendinitis of knees, isn't it?
THOMAS ENQVIST: Yes. I underwent surgery for left knee in March and right knee in November. Hopefully, I was able to play well between my two operations.

Q. What was precisely the matter?
THOMAS ENQVIST: Tendinitis. A bone's end chefed on tendons. The operation consisted in extracting this bone's end. It wasn't very complicated. Inflammation has completely disappeared.

Q. How did you go through this inactivity time?
THOMAS ENQVIST: It was very tough. Tennis is that I much love. I love travel. I love play tennis. I love practise. When I was deprived of this, it was tough. These periods reinforced my will of playing. Tennis laked me alot. When I came back, it takes me time to play well again.

Q. What did you do during your convalescence?
THOMAS ENQVIST: Above all, I tried to strenghten top of body. I worked in a gymnase club. I also ran in water.

Q. What are your relationships with the Swede federation? Did you benefit from the system which was set?
THOMAS ENQVIST: Yes. Through the federation, I benefited from good practice conditions. En 1992 they allowed me to work with Joakim Nyström with a sponsor. Then this sponsor retired and I decided to pay Joakim myself in order to attain to the highest level. We have been working together for three years and it bore fruit. I think our partnership works well now. I have also liked the year spent with Beckers' team. Martin Bohm is really a good coach. Besides, he still gives me advices sometimes.

Q. When you recall this team's training, we think immediately about the solidarity which lives between Swede players. Do you agree with this observation?
THOMAS ENQVIST: Yes. It has always been like that. Swede players have respect for their compatriots. We have fun and we practise together. Of course, I feel closer to some of them and I spend more time with them but I think that on the whole we all get along. No one is kept aloof from the group. We often have dinner even if personnalities are pretty different.

Q. A lot of players who reach top level develop excessively their ego, alter their behaviour. Can it happen to you?
THOMAS ENQVIST: As I said, tennis is an individual sport and I respect the way they behave. It's perhaps like this they suceed in doing their best. But that's neither really my style nor Swede players' one. I think I'll behave the same way whether I'd be 600th or ninth. It doesn't matter.

Q. A little as Stephan Edberg?
THOMAS ENQVIST: I believe he is one of the best tennis player and he's really nice. Although he's a tennis champion, he's a man like another. He's an example in many ways. He's especially one of the best athlete. I really try to inspire myself in him.

Q. You work with another great Swede tennis player, Joakim Nyström. How did your encounter occur? He wasn't your coach at this time, was he?
THOMAS ENQVIST: No, but he wanted to do this job, to travel with a player and I thought he was the kind of man who could make me improve in many fields through his experience of the tour. It was an opportunity for me to have a personnal coach and I thought it could help me to give my best. But I didn't make this choice directly. We have first decided to try on during four or five weeks. We talked a lot. We practised a lot. It went off well and we decided to try on during a year. Now [95], it's the third year we work together.

Q. Did he improve the way he works with you?
THOMAS ENQVIST: I think that he learnt a lot too. He's a better coach now as when we began to work together. He's more familiar with me and above all with my opponents. We work more on tactics.

Q. Do you work especially the mental side?
THOMAS ENQVIST: Not with a psy, no. But I talk about it with Joakim to have the right behaviour on the court. In order to approach matches in a professionnal way.

Q. Did you improve your mental?
THOMAS ENQVIST: Yes. I think more about the match. I still get excited and lose my self-control but I think I'm more cool on the whole. And of necessity, the more I'm calm, the more I play well.

Q. There's a player who has trouble keeping cool, it's Goran Ivanisevic. Curiously, you met him four times this spring [95] and you beat him every time. Do you have a trick?
THOMAS ENQVIST: No. In fact, I played him four weeks in succession. I beat him every time but always in three sets. I really played well each time and I had luck to win these matches. I played well during this spring [95] and it was determining.

Q. How do you explain you have crossed a new level this year?
THOMAS ENQVIST: I think that one of the leading factors is that I move better on the court. I come earlier on the ball. I improved my game a little in all fields. Hopefully I can continue to improve myself.

Q. How did you improve your displacement?
THOMAS ENQVIST: I worked a lot on courts and outside. Sprints. Dynamical work. Leaps. For this, I work in Stockholm with Martin Stripple, my physical coach. Even if I'm not often in Stockholm, it's right.

Q. With your progress, a selection for Davis Cup stands out. It's a trial you have never contested...
THOMAS ENQVIST: No. I have already been a member of the team but I have never played a match, no. We have a very strong team.

Q. Is it an outlook you are eager to contest?
THOMAS ENQVIST: If Captain choose me, I'd be very happy to play.

Q. Next match against United-States [22 to 24 september 1995] seems very tough for a start...
THOMAS ENQVIST: It's sure but Captain'd choose me only if he thinks I have a chance to win. If he doesn't choose me, I'd respect his choice.

Q. You have beaten Agassi one ime in 1993 and another time this year [95]...
THOMAS ENQVIST: Yes but he's the best tennis player this year [95]. In 1993, he was another player. When I play against him, I have to make a great match to have a chance to beat him. In Philadelphie, I barely beat him because I played to a nicety. Since, he has beaten me two times. But if I play a great match, I have my chance...

Q. You have won four tournaments this year. It seems you have more success on ATP Tour as on Grand Slam.
THOMAS ENQVIST: Yes, it's true. I reached the third round in Australia then I lost at the first round in Paris and at Wimbledon and at the second round at Flushing Meadow.

Q. Do you think there's an explanation?
THOMAS ENQVIST: No, not really. I came across very good players. If you are not at your top, it doesn't forgive you. Boetsch at Roland Garros or Anders Jarryd at Wimbledon have made very good matches.

Q. Is there a relation with five sets?
THOMAS ENQVIST: No. In fact, I pretty like playing long matches.

Q. Do you pay attention to your feeding and to dietetic?
THOMAS ENQVIST: No, not really. I try to take food before a match otherwise I eat anything.

Q. As many Swede, you live in Monaco. Do you have time to go there?
THOMAS ENQVIST: Yes. I go there between tournaments. Pratice conditions are ideal. You can play outdoor practically all the year. It's easy to found partners.

Q. Mode of taxation is also interesting. Is money an important thing for you? Do you sometimes spend money like water?
THOMAS ENQVIST: No, not really. I rather tend to save. I try to make some investments. But money isn't a determining thing for me. Of course, it's nice to earn money but the main point is that money enable me to do what I love: play tennis.

Q. Do you care of invest your money?
THOMAS ENQVIST: No, I'm advised by my agent. I like better play tennis.

Q. You have a contract with IMG. Do you have signed very young?
THOMAS ENQVIST: I think I was 15 years old.

Q. Earning money at this age didn't perturb you?
THOMAS ENQVIST: No. But at this time, I was not able to spend this money. They helped me to travel and for outfits.

Q. Do you have a dream? Do you want to buy an house? a car?
THOMAS ENQVIST: No, not really. I'd like a car but I haven't a driving licence.

Q. Apart from tennis what are your hobbies?
THOMAS ENQVIST: I really like innebandy. It's a kind of hockey without skate nor ice. It's played on a handball ground with a plastic stick and a round ball.

Q. And apart from innebandy do you have another hobbies?
THOMAS ENQVIST: I like watching hockey matches in Sweden or in United-States. In general I'm fond of sport.

Q. Thanks.

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