MADRAS, India, AFP
A little over three years ago on December 1, 1997, Swedish tennis star Magnus Norman had a five hour operation to correct an irregular heart rate. “There was a possibility during that period that I could not play tennis again,” said Norman who finished the 2000 ATP Champions Race as the world number four. “But, tennis was my love and my life, so I got back in the game,” the 24-year old said in Madras Monday as he prepared to do battle as top seed in the US$400,000 Indian Open.
“I changed my attitude and my way of looking at tennis has also changed, in a good way. I love the game more, as it is something like a second life … I am more relaxed.” Norman, who opens his singles campaign against the teenaged American wildcard Taylor Dent on Tuesday, said that life on the circuit at the top was not easy, but the good relationships among the younger players on the Tour helped. “It’s very tough at the top. You miss a practice, you behave bad, well that’s it. You lose, there’s a lot of competition. “But then the atmosphere among many of the young players is very good. We see each other often, go out to dinner together sometimes,” he said. Praising the new ATP Champions Race system, Norman said that it was a great way to judge the players’ performance. “And I speak for most of the players,” he added. Norman, while picking Russia’s Marat Safin, himself, fellow Swede Andreas Vinciguerra and Spain’s Juan Carlos Ferrero as the men who could finish on top in 2001, said it was an almost impossible call to make. “It’s going to be tougher and tougher. You have 20 players who could be No. 1. “This season, I think, will be one of the most interesting ever.” In response to a question on whether he thought the men’s tour lacked personality, Norman said it was a matter of perspective.