Cape Town - Sport24's Dave Marshall caught up with former South African tennis legend Wayne Ferreira during his Australian Open promotional duty work with Goran Ivanisevic.
My initial feeling was that our chat was going to be quite short but Wayne was very talkative and these were his replies to my questions:
DM: Wayne what are you up to these days?
WF: I’m living in San Francisco in the Bay area and have a water company that I have run for the last 7 years. I do a little bit of tennis where I help out in the afternoons at an academy at a hotel near where I live and where my kids play. So I’m quite busy.
DM: Do you miss the lifestyle of South Africa?
WF: I really do, yes. I went back to SA in December to visit my family and had a lot of fun. It was very enjoyable. Unfortunately I’ve made my life over in California with the work that I’ve been doing and I’m trying to settle down over there. I really do miss going home.
DM: How has post tennis life been for you?
WF: It’s been good. It’s been different. Obviously I’ve gone on a different path. I’ve opened up a company and like my dad always said “I’m working like a normal person.” It’s certainly been different, taking care of employees and not being so selfish in terms of coping without tennis. It’s been a good transition. I’ve enjoyed it. I do obviously miss playing tennis too.
DM: Was it hard initially making the adjustment without tennis in your life?
WF: It was hard, yes. Tennis is a very selfish lifestyle. You travel, you play when you want to play, and you do what you want to do. Then you open up a company and you are accountable for employees and looking after things and being there day in and day out. It’s certainly different.
DM: Running a business has a different focus to playing tennis, training etc. A business is more about looking after people and being profitable.
WF: Having a company and working is different to tennis. With tennis you definitely have a specific end goal. You are playing a match that day, you have a result, you play a tournament that week, you have a result, and you know what your schedule is. Everything is very cut and dry. When you work you really don’t know when things are going to be done, the outcomes, how long it’s going to take, and you don’t have as much control over what’s going on.
DM: How good is Kevin Anderson?
WF: I think he’s great. I would have hoped he would have done better up until now but he has had a couple of injuries and set-backs. He is starting to play good tennis at the age he is at. He has a few more good years left in him.
DM: If you were his coach would there be any areas you would work on?
WF: For me it is more about the mental side with him. He is solid on all counts. His serves well, has good ground strokes, and sometimes his backhand can be a little bit of a weakness as he hits it quite flat without much spin. For him the only times he really falters is on the mental side, just the belief. I’m not sure he really believes he is as good as he actually is.
DM: What is your opinion on the current generation of tennis players compared to those in your day?
WF: Well, the style of tennis is completely different. Everybody is hitting the ball very flat and hard. It is a sort of very one dimensional game and it is hard to pick who is going to be good as they all play similar tennis. It is now tougher for kids to break into the junior ranks and then into the senior ranks. It was never easy for anybody but I think today with the way tennis is going it is becoming harder. There is still the same amount of enthusiasm; the number of people playing is the same as are the opportunities for players. Tennis players now have to be very physically strong, great athletes, and you really can’t have any weaknesses. You have to be solid everywhere and it is a really hard thing to do.
DM: Who in the young brigade (men’s and women’s) is likely to win a slam?
WF: The guys who are doing the best who are coming through are Nishikori and Raonic. I think these are the next two to take over at the top. Dimitrov, I think still has a ways to go. Other than that everyone’s rating Coric very highly. I haven’t seen him play but I’ve heard he is very, very good. There a couple of other juniors.
DM: How about Special K’s (Aussie youngsters Kyrgios and Kokkanakis)?
WF: Kyrgios I think will do well. I don’t think he is going to be a Nadal or Federer type of guy but I think he is going to be more of a Tsonga. He’ll blow hot and cold, a little up and down. He’ll have some good years and some bad years. I don’t think he’s going to be a stalwart at the top. He is mentally a little volatile and being a big boy he’s going to physically have to carry himself. It’s easy when you start off physically but over the years it grinds on you fitness wise and injury wise and it becomes tougher.
DM: Have you seen much of Tomic?
WF: I’ve seen him play a lot. I rate him very highly. But he has a long way to go on the mental side. He can be great one day and terrible the next. He should be doing a lot better than he currently is.
DM: On the women’s side?
WF: It’s difficult on the women’s side as there are so many people who have an opportunity to do it. Sharapova appears to have a second wind and she is playing with more freedom and I feel she will play awesomely from this point on. Eugenie Bouchard is going to be there for a very long time. She is going to win a lot of slams (music to my ears as I am a massive Genie fan!). I don’t know if this tournament is going to be the one but she is going to win a lot. I think she is going to take over when Serena’s done. Eugenie will be the one who will be like a Sharapova and be there for many years, winning a lot of slams. She is just so tough mentally. She is physically tough but also so mentally tough. She has everything. She really is the complete package (yes she is!).
DM: Who is your favourite current player ATM?
WF: Federer has always been my favourite (me too!). Obviously he didn’t do well here and I’m not sure how much longer he is going to go on for. I actually can’t find anyone to take over from him. I like watching Raonic play, he has good ability but he doesn’t do it for me like Roger does (nor for me Wayne!)!
DM: You tipped Wawrinka last year before the tournament to win it. What was it about him that led you to this feeling?
WF: I just thought he was ready. The thing with him is he is a good enough player to win slams too. It is also with him a mental thing. I just felt he did really well in the Masters the year before. He was playing better, more consistently, beating higher ranked opponents, and you could see he possessed more confidence.
Dave Marshall is writing exclusively for Sport24 during the 2015 Australian Open in Melbourne
Dave Marshall and Wayne Ferreira (Supplied)