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Jonas Bjorkman Blogs From Stockholm

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Friday, October 13, 2006  

Hi there!

Tennis sucks. Well, usually not, usually it is quite the opposite, but at times like this... there you go: tennis sucks!

John McEnroe and I lost 7-6, 7-6 against Simon Aspelin and Todd Perry in the Stockholm Open quarter final tonight, and right now I just feel... baffled... it is like you have been invited to this very special new years eve party, and it is just as fun as you had anticipated it to be, but all of a sudden, half an hour before midnight, everything is closed down.

We should have won tonight. Really. We had 3-0 and then four set points in the first set. We had 5-3 in the second set. But this time we differed too much between our highs and lows, and I didn’t find the right timing in my serves. And they were good, played steady at the decisive points and took their chances like we expected from a strong team like them.

It was a quiet day up until the match. It became late before bedtime yesterday. We took it easy the whole day. After lunch I helped a few friends get tickets to the match, and another friend came over to help me install a new computer that I have bought (you guessed it: I am no technical wizard...). After that we went out to the tennis stadium to warm up. And waited. For a looong time. Joachim "Pim-Pim" Johansson was involved in a thriller against Kristof Vliegen, that he won. All in all, it has been a great week for Swedish tennis. Both "Pim-Pim" and Robin Söderling are in the semifinals tomorrow.

Björn Borg and John McEnroe spent some time together today as well. I saw that Björn had set John and his family up with fancy stuff from his collection "Björn Borg Underwear".

All of a sudden it’s over. I don’t like this part of the job that much, when I have to pack and rush off from friends and family in the middle of a disappointment, when you’re not prepared for it, to another place for another tournament in another country. Madrid is next, and then St Petersburg or Basel. I will see my family in two weeks again.

But I have to say, that despite that the people around the tournament - the chauffeurs, the guys at the ticket counter, and everybody else - have worn red trousers this year (a doubtful style statement...!), they have done a fantastic job. So have the crowd. I will be back to feel this unique atmosphere next year, that’s for sure. And who knows if John McEnroe might be back. It has been such a great honour to play with one of greatest. I just wish it would have lasted longer this time.

But as you know, tennis isn’t everything. The most fantastic and greatest thing about today was that my best friend’s little son saw the light for the first time today. Maybe you have already guessed that it was the son of Thomas and Gisella Johansson and that is right! My family and I are looking forward to all the moments that we have in front of us together with the new family. Big congratulations to Thomas and Gisella for their little miracle!

Alright, thanks for today! Have a great weekend!

Time to go. The bags are waiting to be packed. (02:26 am)!

All the best,

Jonas

Remember to check out my web site jonasbjorkman.com

 
Thursday, October 12, 2006  

Hi everyone!

I wish that you all had been in Stockholm tonight. John McEnroe and I beat Andreas Vinciguerra and Johan Landsberg 6-3, 6-2 in the first round of the doubles in Stockholm Open.

But it was not the result that was the most important thing this time. It was the atmosphere. Sheer magic. Bjorn Borg and Stefan Edberg were both there.

The lights were turned down, then turned on when each of us walked on the court. The three of us “ordinary” players got great ovations, but when John McEnroe made his entrance, everyone got on their feet and gave him a standing ovation that lasted for several minutes. It seemed that it would never end. John had to thank the audience two, three times before we even started to warm up…

I think that some people might have doubted that McEnroe is still capable of delivering first class competitive tennis, but if so, they were all surprised how very good he was moving, returning, and playing his volleys.

We were supposed to play against Joachim “Pim-Pim” Johansson and Thomas Johansson tonight, but Thomas’ wife Gisella is expecting their first child, so they had to cancel.

Before the match, Bjorn Borg came into our locker room, and it was a thrill just to see them together again, and hear them catch up, talking about old times, their current situation, our upcoming match tonight, and their own form and the match that they are going to play against each other in Dubai in three weeks time.

You know, in this world of tennis, when you are part of happenings like this, it feels like you are part of history…

John and Bjorn had dinner together last night, and they both agreed that they have to spend more time together from now on.

The atmosphere was just incredible tonight, and I am sure that it will be at least as good tomorrow when we face Simon Aspelin and Todd Perry. It will be very tough. They are fighting for a place in the Masters play offs, and they lost in the semifinals in San Jose, so I am sure that they are very keen on beating us this time.

Earlier today, I stopped by the former Swedish international football star Tomas Brolin’s restaurant Undici in the centre of Stockholm to hold a speech together with other Swedish athletes, and that is also the place where we are going to have a late dinner tonight.

My son Max learned how to fold and throw a paper plane from Michael Llodra yesterday, and he wouldn’t stop showing me how to do it today (Max, that is!). We also played hide and seek, and Max hid behind the same curtain every time, totally impossible to find!

This was a mind blowing day, and I can’t wait to find out how everything turns out tomorrow.

Take care, and talk to you soon again!

Jonas


Wednesday, October 11, 2006  

Hi there!

I lost to Robin Soderling in the second round of Stockholm Open today, 6-0, 6-2. The evil virus-infection that Petra and Max have been carrying for a while now has really jumped on me too. I had no energy at all. But to be honest that probably didn’t have an impact on winning or loosing, but maybe if I had felt better it would have given me a few more games at least.

This evening, two of the Swedish fans that have supported us Swedish players in Melbourne and the Australian Open during the years (they are both loyal and loud!), nicknamed “Candle” and “Pippi”, came to visit at our hotel, and handed over a bottle of champagne and a few Davidoff cigars. The reason was, that we made a bet some time ago, about which of our favourite football teams, their AIK or my Hammarby, both from Stockholm, would win the derbys between them this season. Needless to say, Hammarby won them both… Almost an embarrassingly easy way to earn the glory, and a zip of champagne… They are both great guys, just not so clever when it comes to football…

Speaking of football. I just watched the Swedish national team win their fourth straight victory in the qualification for the European Championships 2008, 2-1 away against Iceland. Despite injuries and internal trouble, they have found the form that has made them so successful since the late 90s - only three losses in the qualifications for the European and World Championships since 1998 for example. Great to see that the team spirit is back.

And speaking of spirit… I think I have to consider employing my son Max as my mentor! After my poor performance today, he told me: “Dad, it’s okay. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. I do that too!”

Max really loves tennis. They have mini tennis courts for the kids at Stockholm Open. Yesterday he played there for almost two hours, the queues were starting to build up behind him, but he just didn’t want to stop… He was still charged up when we came back to the hotel, and it took some time to get him to sleep. With the benefit that we all slept in, until 8.30 this morning…

John McEnroe and I had a seminar with the sponsors and the business elite at lunchtime today. I really like that kind of gathering; they are both interesting and entertaining, and they always broaden your horizons a little bit.

At the seminar, McEnroe said, jokingly, that he is worried that I will be a little bit too kind against my good friends Joachim “Pim-Pim” Johansson and Thomas Johansson in the doubles tomorrow. He is here to win, he wants to show why he is considered to be a legend! The moderator asked him if the mix between a “Mr Nice Guy-on the court” and a “Mr Not So Nice Guy-on the court” makes the perfect balance, and from what I could hear, John agreed.

Our doubles match tomorrow is sold out! It’s even impossible to get tickets on the black market! It would be such a fantastic feeling if we could show our best side and win.

When we came back from the tennis tonight, Max said: “What a nice house we have," about the hotel. What else can you do but agree…

Another late night, another room service dinner.

Alright, nighty-nighty, talk to you tomorrow (and if you can’t sleep, visit my web site jonasbjorkman.com...)

Jonas

 
Tuesday, October 10, 2006  

Hello tennis lovers!

It was a big day for us Swedes in Stockholm Open today. Andreas Vinciguerra beat Nicolas Devilder 6-4, 6-1, and Joachim "Pim-Pim" Johansson beat Davide Sanguinetti 6-4, 6-4. Both Andreas and "Pim-Pim" have been struggling with injuries for a long time, but it is great to see that they finally are on their way back to where they belong.

It was a good day for me too. I had a quiet start, played with my son Max in our hotel room, and then I had lunch with my wife Petra, and on our way to that lunch we ran into John McEnroe when he was cheking in.

He took a late flight from New York to Stockholm, slept all the time, and took a nap later on this afternoon at the hotel, so he is ready to go. We will hopefully find some time to practise together tomorrow. He practised this evening together with the young Swedish player Robert Gustavsson, and needless to say, Robert was all fired up over the possibility to play with a living legend for a whole hour!

After lunch, I went out to prepare for my match against Peter Wessels. I didn´t feel well during the warm up, and I continued to have difficulties during the match. I was sweating a lot and had a high pulse, but I managed to turn the first set around after he had broken my serve twice, and finally I won, 7-5, 6-2. Petra and Max have been sick lately, so maybe I have caught something from them. Let´s hope not.

My son (and sober critic...) Max thought that my performance was okay. Sometimes he thinks that I hit the net unnecessarily often, but today he was pleased and said that it was good that I mostly decided to keep the ball above the net!

Tomorrow I will face Robin Söderling. He is in great form, played very well in the Davis Cup against Brazil, and it will be difficult to beat him on the slow surface we have here. I will do whatever I can, that's for sure!

Talk to you again tomorrow, take care!

Jonas Björkman

 
Monday, October 9, 2006   

Hello there tennis fans!

And welcome behind the scenes in Stockholm, the capital of my home country Sweden, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, truly extraordinary with all its surrounding water (did you know that Stockholm is built on several islands, and that the surrounding archipelago consists of 24 000 islands!?) and lush greenery that is changing into different shades of red and yellow this time of the year.

It is easy to get soft hearted and romantic here...

Especially if you start your day like I did this morning. I slept until 9.00, a luxury that I can afford myself only if my son Max is not around... (he and my wife Petra have caught a bad cold, so they have stayed at Petra’s parents' house outside Stockholm for a few days). I had breakfast together with my parents who are visiting from the south of Sweden during Stockholm Open. The breakfast at Grand Hotel is the best of them all!

The kitchen has a star in Guide Michelin, and the breakfast buffet never ends! I go straight for the oatmeal. It is to die for here. Then I build a little buffet of my own on my table, and then I get going. This morning I sat down on the veranda, the sun was sparkling, reflecting itself in the seawater mirror just steps from the veranda, the sky was clear blue, the air was high and just a little bit chilly in a refreshing way. The view is beautiful from there, with the water, the castle, the park Kungsträdgården, and the old town.

After breakfast I went for a haircut. Short! And fast! When you get as old as I am, you've got to use every trick in the book to keep the pace up...

Then I went out to the tennis stadium, practised and had lunch together with my friend Thomas Johansson. And, boy, that haircut is fast! So hopefully I am ready to rock. It feels like a good decision to be here for a week before the tournament to practise hard, get fit, and get the timing right.

Neither Thomas Johansson nor me are travelling with a coach anymore. We try to coach each other instead. It works really well. Today we helped each other to fine tune our serves. Maybe a mistake from my side. John McEnroe and I will face Thomas and Joachim "Pim-Pim" Johansson in the first round of the doubles on Thursday. They usually have horsekicks for serves, and now, when I have helped to improve it even further... It will be a very tough task for McEnroe and me, for sure.

Speaking of John McEnroe (and everyone is doing that, pages up and down in the newspapers, rumours among the players)... It will be a fantastic experience for me to come home to Stockholm and team up with a legend like that. It´s an honour, something to remember forever, and a great gift to bring to the enthusiastic and knowledgeable crowds here. Truly fantastic.

In the singles tomorrow I will face Peter Wessels from Holland. He has a really good serve, strikes hard, takes chances, gambles with the margins. On a good day (for him...) you might seldom see the ball, so I am hoping for one of his bad days… It is important for me to be aggressive, take command, and force him to move around.

After lunch I made arrangements for tomorrow, booked time for my warm up and found a practising partner - one of the young Swedish players that Joakim Nyström is coaching.

This evening I have been hanging out with Max and Petra back at the hotel. They are feeling better now, and they will stay with me the rest of the week. There is no better warm up than to be with Max. Because we wrestle a lot... and just because it is great to be around him, to find time to just be together, doing all the stuff he (and I) loves to do: play with his toy cars, his Bob The Builder kit (see photo), read, talk, make fun of each other, wrestle some more... He just had his dinner in front of a Pippi Longstocking DVD. Petra is reading his fairytale tonight.

It is a hysteric atmosphere outside the hotel. Not just because we are here, or the fact that McEnroe is coming to town tomorrow, but primarily because the Brazilian national soccer team is staying here. They will play a friendly against Ecuador tomorrow, and several hundred people outside the entrance are fighting for a spot from where they can see their idols.

It has been a great build-up for a hopefully great week, starting last Saturday when Sweden played like in trance, and beat the star studded team of Spain 2-0 here in Stockholm in the qualifiers for the European Championships in soccer 2008. Now, everything can happen, so watch out Rafael Nadal and everyone else!

It has been a pleasure sharing my day with you, and I will talk to you tomorrow again. In the meantime, why not visit my web site jonasbjorkman.com. Keeps you busy for at least a couple of minutes!

Have a great evening now, and I will talk to you soon!

Jonas Björkman

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