Cincinnati 'like home' to Swede
Wilander won four titles, reached five finals

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Mats Wilander remembers this one night at the ATP Tennis Center. He was sitting around with a few guys, including his coach and Irishman Matt Doyle. They were having a few drinks, then decided to play some after-hours tennis.

        It was pushing midnight. They took center court. They played some doubles, hootin' and hollerin' and having a good time.

        "You feel comfortable being yourself in Cincinnati," he said.

        Perhaps that helps explain his success at the ATP Championship during the 1980s.

A Swedish player appeared in the ATP final eight straight years.
        Wilander won the tournament four times during a six-year period in which he also finished runner-up once. He defeated John McEnroe, Anders Jarryd, Jimmy Connors and Stefan Edberg -- a two-time ATP winner -- in the finals and lost to Boris Becker in the 1985 championship match.

        His four titles here are the most he won in any single event in his career, and his five appearances in the finals are matched only by his success at Barcelona and the French Open.

        Wilander is the only four-time winner of the ATP, and his .837 winning percentage (36-7) is No. 1 all-time at the tournament.

        "I really liked playing there," Wilander said. "People are very friendly. It was the ATP Championship, (and) the players thought it was their championship.

        "It's very easy to play there. There was no hassle. You had your own car. You don't have to worry about anything but playing your match. That helps me. The U.S. Open is a little different . . . it's harder."

        Wilander, who won seven Grand Slam titles, was ranked No. 1 in the world in 1988 after winning the Australian, French and U.S. Opens (he also won in Cincinnati that year). He turns 35 on Aug. 22 and competes now only in seniors events.

        He said he and several Swedish players would come to the ATP Championship a few days early to get ready for the summer hardcourt season. They would practice on local courts and take in the sights.

        They enjoyed boating on the Ohio River, attending Kings Island and playing golf at the course next to the tennis stadium.

        Wilander loves to play golf. While he did not learn the sport here, he said he pursued it the first year he played in Cincinnati. During the ATP Championship, he would try to play three or four 18-hole rounds.

        Actually, his success in the ATP Championship cut down on his golf time.

        "Cincinnati feels good, just like home," he said.




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