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Mats Wilander

Mats' musings: The hardest part of playing late isn't the waiting

Busted Racquet

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Seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander will be contributing to Busted Racquet during the 2010 U.S. Open

The cream is rising to the top

This is the tournament where the best players go through because it's a neutral surface and you can play any way you want. You can play from the baseline, come to the net, hit flat shots, you can hit topspin, it's all effective on this surface. What it all boils down to is that everybody has had a month on hard courts and they're all happy to be playing there. Not everybody is happy to be playing on clay or grass. Almost everyone considers this their favorite surface with the possible exception of Rafael Nadal. It's the footing and they move so well on it.

Andy Murray needs to get mentally tough

Andy Murray was probably the only big surprise thus far. Everybody kind of thought that this was the one he should be able to win. He played great this summer but ran into somebody who played better on that specific day. Murray didn't show the attitude necessary to win a Grand Slam, which is something he's struggled with. There's a lot of question marks about his potential to ever win a Grand Slam.

Anytime a player is not getting rid of bad mental habits like getting upset when you're ahead but not playing well or keeping a positive attitude in lesser matches, then the coach-player relationship is not that effective. That's what his coaches have been telling him to do. That has to change. His poor attitude brings other people into the match because they can always know that he will get down on himself. It even happened against Wawrinka when he was up a set and tied 3-3.

I have no idea whether anyone can get him to the mental state of Federer and Nadal. He may not have it in him. We don't know though because the mental part of his game has overshadowed the talent thus far. It starts with attitude and that's the easiest fix of all. It's disappointing because he's fun to watch and has Federer's and Nadal's numbers on the ATP tour, but I don't know whether he can compete with them in Slams.

On playing late matches at the Open

It was a late session on Tuesday night, but not as late as the one I was involved in back in 1993. That one ended at 2:26 a.m. and it's still the latest match in U.S. Open history. Me and Mikael Pernfors were on after Gabriela Sabatini, who was up 6-1, 5-0. We were ready to go out. But then Sabatini fell apart and the match turned into three sets and three hours and 15 minutes. That was rough. It's not that big a deal to wait unless you're getting ready to go out and the match unexpectedly ends up going 90 minutes longer.

The bigger issue is playing a four-hour match and getting back to the hotel, getting a decent night of sleep and being fresh for the next day. When you get to bed at 5 a.m., there's the problem.

The U.S. Open is the hardest Slam to win

This is the hardest Grand Slam to win because you never run into people who don't know how to play on hard court. At the French Open you can face someone who's clueless on clay. Same thing on the grass at Wimbledon. But here in New York, everyone is good on hard.

Caroline Wozniacki is validating her No. 1 seed

The women's side is shaping up to be very exciting. We were all nervous without Serena Williams and Justine Henin, but Caroline Wozniacki has proven that she belongs here. There's no telling how good she will become. Maybe she's not good enough right now, but every day she lives she improves. She's like a sponge, soaking up experience.

It's better for women's players to get some court time in the first week

Wozniacki lost three games in her first three matches. Obviously that's not a bad thing, but it's not a great thing either. I think for the women it's better to not dominate too much early in the tournament. Because they're only playing two sets, if they dominate, they can't get enough repetition if they're not on the court much. On their days off they need to practice then and you can't duplicate a match atmosphere in practice. With the guys, a day off is literally a day off because they're playing three sets on match days. Women who aren't on the court much in the first few rounds have to get in their reps.

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