A viable hint to Robert Lindstedt

 

The scene is the locker room at Ullevi Tennis, Gothenburg September 2001.

A large crowd of aspiring kids, born in the late 70-ties or early 80-ties, are occupying the premises. The future event is in its infancy and the classical clichés are hailing in the air – Did you win? God job! Tough luck! Etc…

Suddenly the growling murmur stops. An intense silence appears – and everyone knows why. The combatants from the tournament´s most emotional fight have returned, and established themselves in different parts of the premises – Robert Lindstedt as far from Robin Söderling as possible.

The fight had been rolling and qualitative. Young Söderling was taking the market with leaps and bounds and appeared as the clear favorite. Lindstedt initially having launched his proud battery, had taken the butt out of the Pride of Tibro (utterly tiny village at the Westgotian plains) – and received his payment in terms of the first set.

Despite a gradual recapture of the command, the kid regularly demonstrated his discontent with the situation – which understandingly induced a growing chagrin of the older of the two. (For clarity can be mentioned that Lindstedt emphasizes being born in Sundbyberg, shorted Sumpan.)

In the beginning of the third set, following at culmination of senses, an exchange of words occurred, briefly quoted:

Tibro :           Hell, how bad I´m playing!

Sumpan:        Turn off this bad playing rattle!

Tibro:            Must be true thou, as I lost a set to you!

Needless to say, the touch of irritation persisted through the rest of the match – and was not promoted by the fact that the kid brought home the victory.

Being a younger colleague of Robert it seemed highly recommendable that I stay low in the situation prevailing. But I did the contrary. Violating my modest personality I issued the plausible, but badly timed, recommendation that he should restrict his efforts just to play doubles.

His answer was actually more explicit than I deserved. In short I learned that the system was formed in a way that made it “impossible” to appear only in doubles.

In my view, Robert´s game has always been like cut out for doubles. He has a good reach, serves good and features a natural aggressiveness (even at net). That he would eventually embark on this new road, stood out towards the middle of the decade.

On the challenger tour our roads crossed now and then – and the Son of Båstad… sorry Sumpan, often cheered up the crowd. In 2005 we met in the Swedish Open qualies. My feeling during the match was that Robert wouldn´t go on with this for long. And to my surprise, he declared it already when thanking each other over the net. This had been his last match – in singles. Henceforth his efforts would be made in plural.

Under the week he unfolded his views in the players´ lounge – and also verbalized his esteem of Björkman and Aspelin. I could say nothing else, but agree…

Finally, don´t let the touch of humor in this story be interpreted as a lack of respect – I´m eager to credit Robert for having done the “impossible”.