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Noah Rubin’s “Behind The Racquet” • With • Jonas Björkma | Tennis 10sBalls

Editor’s note: 10sBalls thanks Noah Rubin for giving us permission to repost these great stories.

#LegendaryBTR- “One of the most difficult parts of my career was my confidence. I was too hard on myself and went through times where I would automatically lose matches. My ranking would drop because I put too much pressure on myself. I wish I could have handled those times better. 

As a child, I was very shy. I sat in the back row at school. I had a modest personality. When I went on tour, I became more social because I had no choice. On the court, I was alone and off the court, I had to gain confidence speaking English. That helped me get to where I am today. 

The tour is very different now. If you are a top player, you have an entourage. You probably spend more time with your team than your competitors. If you get wild cards into big tournaments and play well, you quickly break into the Top 100. Other guys have a longer path to the top. They start with lower-level events and gain confidence in themselves. These players become friends because they only have each other, they can’t afford to travel with their coaches. 

After my professional career, I partnered with my friend Thomas Johansson to run the Stockholm Open. We were the Tournament Directors for five years. For me, this was a great transition from a professional tennis career to real life and allowed me to remain involved in tennis.

I was very fortunate to get into coaching. Andy Murray called me and asked if I was interested in joining his team. I spent one year with Andy and then another year and a half with Marin Cilic. I was fortunate to work with these two great players. I coached different personalities and now I understand why, as a player, I connected with some coaches more than others. 

Coaching is very different from playing but I like it. I miss the adrenaline rush of playing but now I work on the same side as the player. When I establish a successful connection with a player, it gives me adrenaline because I am part of the team.

Honesty is the biggest key to success between a player and coach. Coaches are often scared to tell their players the truth because it could mean that they lose their job. But coaches cannot do a good job if they are scared of losing their job. Tennis is an odd sport because the coach is the boss of the player but the player is the one who pays the salary. 

Tennis has changed since I left the tour but today it’s missing passion. This is an amazing era with Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal. They are exceptional and have done amazing things for the sport but on the court, players give them too much respect. They play one good set and then often lose the second set quickly because they are satisfied with just being on the other side of the net. 

I would like to see this new generation show motivation to beat the top players instead of waiting for them to retire. Perhaps the next generation has lost this drive because prize money has increased. A lot of guys make extremely good money if they are ranked in the Top 50 so they don’t want to work hard for more success. 

I don’t like the new format of Davis Cup because the players who win the event often feel like they do not need to play again. During my time on tour, the proudest moment for a player was representing their country during Davis Cup, even if they had won before. Nowadays, players don’t have the same passion for winning. The top players are the only ones who still have this passion. The top three have won over 250 titles but every time they win, you can tell how happy they are because they never grow tired of success. I think the new generation is missing this drive.”

Jonas Björkman (@bjorkmantennis)

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Also listen to Noah Rubin’s Podcast

Behind the Racquet Pod Mike Cation & Noah Rubin/Tennis Channel Podcast Network

and check out his new clothing line!

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