We’re in an era where doubles tennis doesn’t quite get the attention that it used to in the 90s in the early 2000s but I’m delighted to be joined today by one of the sports greatest ever doubles players 22 time Grand Slam champion Olympic gold medalist a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame and one half of the.
Famed woodies were the most one of the most successful pairs of the open era mr.
Todd Woodbridge Todd welcome to India first of.
All thank you this is the first time that the Australian Open has come to India for an official pre-tournament launch and who better to do it then an Australian tennis legend like yourself.
Thank you it’s a great opportunity to to get to India be a part of the Australia Fest which is a six month long program of spreading Australian culture to over 20.
Cities throughout India and but what better way to do that then use the Australian Open to highlight.
What we do in Australia in particular in Melbourne and sport could sport such a big.
Part of our culture and of course it’s a big part of Indian culture as well you know a lot of players on the tour speak about you know the history of a French Open or the Wimbledon where you know of course you have a few records there yourself but I.
Think you know over the years we’ve heard a number of tennis players say that the Australian Open is the Slam that they’d most like coming to and playing at yeah why is that well I think I think there’s a lot to.
Do about the timing in the calendar because a year season of tennis is long and by.
Late by end of October November the players are done so they pack up many are living in winter climates they’re happy then to have Christmas get down to Australia you start fresh the new year has this feeling of positivity about it so everybody gets to Australia it’s our summer it’s great weather it’s warm the Australian Open itself is is the it’s like a party slam it’s a very Australian.
Theme if you like it outdoor summer barbecues you know it’s that that the players like but in in the mentality of an athlete is about new day new year new opportunity and that’s what this training open brings every January you’re obviously here with with the iconic Australian trophies as well.
Presented to Roger Federer and Caroline Wozniacki earlier this year yeah are you a little miffed though that it’s only the singles trophies you know that tend to do the rounds much like in your playing career when the single stars seem to.
Steal the spotlight no I’m not me because one of the key things about my own career in any career is you should be playing every part of our sport so that singles doubles and mix and to bring the trophies here is great we call them Norman and.
Sir Norman Brooks which is the men’s trophy that was named after and definitely a cursed which is the ladies trophy but to bring them here is another part of the journey in fact is to promote the Grand Slam of asia-pacific and what.
We’re doing while we’re here in India as well as to bring ten young Indian kids to become a part of the ball kids so the international ball kid program the Australian Open and so that’s part of this journey as well so hopefully the ten that gets selected are budding champions and want to want to be able to get to the Australian Open see the stars work on the same court.
As them then come back and work on their games with.
The huge motivation so it’s a it’s a pretty special time for them and a really important program I won’t talk about your playing career just a little bit you won 11 of your 16 men’s doubles Grand.
Slam titles with Mark Woodford how did the two of you become a pair because Woodford is a few years older than you are and he used to a partner John McEnroe yeah yeah so when Mark was playing with John McEnroe’s five.
Years older than me I was coming up and at the top of the junior ranks and McEnroe was just about finishing his career and he said to mark I’m not going to play next year you need to find yourself someone else so I chose I in a way went after mark because I felt like I could do at Grand Slam he’d already won a US Open with mark and I said how about it we let me try.
And play with you and that was that so we.
Won our fourth tournament that we ever played together we won four tournaments that first year and then the following.
Year we won our first Grand Slam at the Australian Open in 92 and from there on our partnership became on average we want every fourth tournament we played throughout our career so it was pretty successful run was there an instant chemistry no.
I sort of talked about funny you asked that because not really I said we actually win mark play with McEnroe he played the forehand court his McEnroe.
Is a left-hander as well and so I started on the backhand court and within the the second or third tournament in one particular match it wasn’t going very well I said oh no let’s change and we switch sides and we never went back.
Because I was the better off the forehand and so it wasn’t instant but the strengths of our partnership had to do with communication and the fact that we.
Both were quite strong personalities but both had the ability to lead so when one player wasn’t playing as well let’s say Mark was and I could take over the team and vice-versa if I was struggling he could take over the team and so there was that real gelling nature that helped us there and typically in doubles the very best combinations of.
All time whether you take Newcombe and Roche McEnroe and Fleming you can take the Bryan brothers after us there were.
All left-right combinations and and that was certainly a part of our success you’re obviously very well known across the world but I’m sure you’ve realized that you’re very well known in India is well because you know at the end of the 90s you played a lot of interesting you know matches battles with the Indian Express Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi.
What did you you know as a more established doubles team make of these two guys as they.
A rivalry that you enjoyed yeah well like Australians Indians love their doubles they and are very skillful and you know I talked about my can i gelling well so did Mahesh in Leander Leander with his reflexes and flying around the net Mahesh with being really solid big serving and consistent of his return so they blended well I think for them they.
Came you know we’re a little bit more established and older than them and then they got us at the wrong time.
If you think about the one thing they.
Didn’t get which was an Olympic medal they really could have meddled in Sydney but we drew each other first.
Round Sydney was the last event that Mark and I played together as a combination and we lost in the final but we still played pretty well at that event so we got in their way a little.
Bit I would have loved to have seen.
Their partnership go for longer yeah they because they seemed to break up at their peak they did and that was a shame because I think they had more slams.
In them but as a combination you know they were very special and one of the great things about doubles is you need to have pairs that represent their countries out on tour because that gets.
The fans behind them wherever you may be so anywhere we played Aussies would turn up and vice-versa for the Indians it’s been 13 also years now since you retired are you baffled sometimes that the same guys who were winning slamming Rafa Nadal Roger Federer Serena Williams still winning slams now Leander still playing the understands well yeah.
I am surprised me no I the end of my career played Davis Cup a semi-final against Roger in doubles I played with Mahesh Bhupati we we beat Nadal at the Australian Open in out in my last year and they’re still there so yes it’s an incredible effort not baffled because their champion players.
You know I look back and wonder I stopped at 34 and a lot of the players now.
Are playing longer you know and that ah that was about a lengthy career at 34.
In my personal space that I’m.
Glad I finished when I did I think I could have gone.
On in one more there’s no doubt about that but I had to make a decision.
Of what to do with a career path and I had an opportunity.
To go back to Australia get involved with television become a commentator and expand my repertoire into sort of hosting some Olympics and Commonwealth Games and that’s been something.
That I’ve really enjoyed I think you’ve had I stayed.
On two or longer than that I probably wouldn’t have had that.
Opportunity so you know I have imbalance III did well and I was very happy with and I left the sport you know the field you know the reason why I actually asked that was because you know you see a certain amount of consistency in the men’s game you know.
That are still around federal state around Djokovic is still around and they are consistently winning you don’t sort of see that in the women’s side of the draw we’ve just had the Wuhan Open which is on as we speak where all the top ten seeds in the women’s tour were eliminated before the quarterfinals you.
Know we sort of saw that at Wimbledon and the.
US Open as well why do you think that is oh that’s a I don’t really have an answer to that other then it’s about handling the pressure and enjoying being in that top echelon space and I think some of the women at the moment have struggled with that.