Mats Wilander exclusive: 1980s were an unbelievable decade for tennis

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Mats Wilander speaks exclusively to GiveMeSport about his career at the top of tennis...

In 1982, the unseeded Mats Wilander shocked the world of tennis when he knocked out Ivan Lendl in the fourth round of the French Open. 

The unknown Swede went on to win the tournament and become the youngest male Grand Slam singles champion, at 17 years of age. By the time he was 21, Wilander had won four Grand Slams and by 25, he was ranked world No.1.

Wilander amassed seven Grand Slam titles in just six years, between 1982 - 1988. Success of this frequency and magnitude, experienced at such a young age, usually breeds arrogance.

But Wilander maintains that he was just grateful to be able to pursue his passion.  

"I was very lucky to be part of an unbelievable decade in men's pro tennis." admitted Wilander. 

"In the 1980s. There were alot of great characters and great players.

"The Grand Slam titles were spread out between five different guys, we must not forget guys like Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg."

Lendl and Wilander's battle for the top spot in the world rankings, raged on throughout the decade. Lendl eventually equalled the Swede's tally of seven Grand Slam titles, before he went on to win his eight in 1990.

And towards the back end of the 1980s Becker exploded onto the scene and dominated the one tournament Wilander never asserted himself in: Wimbledon.  

Despite enjoying a blizzard of success, there is one victory that stands out in the Swede's memory. 

Wilander said: "Over time, I think the last Grand Slam final I won, became the sweetest victory, when I became No.1 after beating Ivan Lendl at the '88 US Open.

"But the victory for me, is that I am still in love with the game.

"Once I was winning Grand Slam titles, making money, and ranked top of the world. But I realised afterwards, that I started playing the game in the beginning, because I loved the sport, and I still do."

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