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ATP Heritage: Mats Wilander, 1988

On 23 August, ATP celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Emirates ATP Rankings. We continue our countdown with a look at Mats Wilander, the 1988 year-end No. 1. #ATPHeritage

Through hard work, great mental strength and court-craft, Mats Wilander followed in the footsteps of his fellow Swede Bjorn Borg, to become the year-end No. 1 in 1988.

Wilander had lost to Ivan Lendl three times the previous year. He was subsequently advised by his physical trainer Matt Doyle to devise a new plan. Curtailing his schedule and cutting back on running, Wilander closed the gap on his rival. 

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By winning his third major title of the year at the US Open, with victory over Lendl in four hours and 54 minutes, Wilander rose to No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on 12 September 1988.

"The goal was to beat Lendl, to become so strong that you feel invincible," said Wilander. "He was the target and he happened to be No. 1 at the time and hard courts were the one place I couldn’t beat him.

"I became No. 1 and I was more than a tennis player in my mind. I lost track of what my goals really were because it happened so quickly. I was aiming at 1990, '91 [to be No. 1] not '88."

Wilander was aged 24 years, one month, when he first became World No. 1 and spent 20 weeks at the summit of men's professional tennis. Lendl regained top spot on 30 January 1989. 

In a 15-year career, Wilander won seven major championships before he became World No. 1. He clinched the 1982 Roland Garros crown on the first attempt and remains the youngest Australian Open champion at 17 years, nine months, in 1983. He captured 33 singles titles.

Read more about Wilander in "No. 1", our special commemorative coffee table book, celebrating all year-end ATP World Tour No. 1s over the past 40 years. Buy Online Through Tennis Warehouse: Europe | Outside Europe

This year, the ATP pays special tribute to 25 former World No. 1s as part of the ATP Heritage programme, marking 40 years since the ranking system was introduced in 1973.

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