Talking about injuries and Australian tennis.
How much of a setback was the stress fracture of the pelvis last year? You were ranked in the top 100 at the time and were unable to build upon your ranking during the clay season?
It was frustrating, as I worked hard, playing Challengers and was ranked between 70-80 and the start of 2008, made all the main draws of the clay events. I knew I wasn’t at 100 percent, but I kept playing and I didn’t know what it was. I had no clue and kept struggling with it, poor movement for 3-4 months, some days it was good and other days it was terrible, then it was all terrible. Then after losing to Melzer in the 1st round of Roland Garros, I had CTC scans, MRI scans, x-rays, they picked up that it was a stress fracture of the pelvis. Not knowing what the problem was after all that time, I was glad to find out and did the upper body rehabilitation.
During the enforced time away from the tour, what did you do to fill in the time?
I spent the time with the family, doing rehab. It was such a relief after a year to be pain free. It gradually got better after 3 and bit months. Hopefully it’s fine now and being able to play, compete, takes the pressure off whether I win or lose, it’s much better than being at home injured.
Did you come back too soon from injury to help Australia in the Davis Cup tie playoff?
No, I hadn’t played for 4 months. I had 10 days there in Chile with training 3 hours a day, great food, great hotel, being with the Aussie team. It was the perfect preparation.
Who are your best friends on tour?
The Gooch (Chris Guccione), Shannon Nettle, my former coach and still fishing companion, Stephen Huss, Ashley Fisher and Lleyton Hewitt, most of the Aussie guys.
Since we have some ladies, who read this blog. Can you tell us how you met your wife Catarina?
She was working at the ATP event in Munich, doing the accreditation and at the practice court desk. I saw her daily and thought she was hot. A group of 7 including Wayne Arthurs, Jordan Kerr and Graydon Oliver, went out after we lost. I went up to her and had a crack and she knocked me back. She just thought I was like some of the other players, that wanted to have fun for the evening and then that’s it. Somehow I got her phone number and we just texted on and off for a few months. We met again at Kitzbühel, where she was working again. We met for lunch and dinner, then for the next four days we were hanging out. At the end of the week she asks “Does this mean we are going out”. I just answered, “Yeah, ok”. I was 26 at the time, it was my first serious girlfriend, it happened so fast, 3 months later she was pregnant, and it got very serious. My parents were shocked at first, being my first serious girlfriend and all. Mum was worried at first, but once she met Cat, then all was fine and our families get along very well.
How do you enjoy living in Sweden and how are your Swedish language skills these days?
I like it, the people are great. They have a similar sense of humour to the Aussies and are great to get along with. For now it’s a base, but once I finish with tennis, then we will return to Australia. My Swedish is terrible, 6 months ago when I was injured I was doing an intensive course and making some good progress, but the problem is the Swedes speak excellent English, making it harder to learn the language.
I know you are a big AFL fan (the Dons). What did you think of the Aussies qualifying for the World Cup in Germany? If the World Cup bid is successful how good would it be for football in this country?
I had pneumonia during the World Cup in 2006 and was Sebby (Sebastien) was born 2 weeks earlier. So I was on the couch enjoying the tournament, with my Aussie flag, going crazy, and fist pumping when the Aussies defeated Japan 3-1. I was gutted after the Italian match, going out like that, but the tournament was great.
It would be possible for Australia to hold the World Cup and it would be great for the country if it happens.
How would you explain the lack of current depth in Aussie tennis?
It’s cyclical. 15 years ago there were plenty of Aussies in the top 100, now we don’t have any male in the top 100. South America wasn’t so strong then. France and Spain have good programs. There are 20 money events in France all year round and there are many Futures events in Spain, that they must be able to produce some players.
What’s your view on Tomic. Do you think the media are putting too much pressure and expectations on him?
A bit, but he is handling it well. He enjoys the hype and the press. He easily was the most popular player in Burnie. He has a good temperament, but there is a long way to go, he is going in the right direction.
How much do you value Davis Cup? When you went to Argentina in 2002 as a hitting partner who was that for?
Davis Cup, then followed by the Slams. I would love to play in an Olympics one day. There was a mistake where it said I was the hitting partner for the Argentines, but it was for Australia.
Do you think it’s fundamentally wrong to give ranking points for Davis Cup?
The Aussies have always played it (The Poo has been indifferent), it’s natural. If you don’t have enough passion to play, then it’s ridiculous to have points for Davis Cup to motivate them to play. Guys like Nieminen can’t get points because of his nationality and a Spanish player ranked around 50 because of their depth, he isn’t likely to play Davis Cup and can’t get points.