Thomas Johansson, the 2002 Australian Open Champion (def. Marat Safin 3–6, 6–4, 6–4, 7–6(7–4) and former Top 10 ATP Tour, is the newest and latest tennis greatest to fall in love with Padel. His first experience at the highest level occurred recently during the pre-qualifying round of the Cervezas Victoria Malaga Master (World Padel Tour) accompanied by Fabrice Pastor. They won their first match with a double 6/2 but were defeated in second round by the seeded number 1 couple of the pre-qualifier round, Jose Antonio Garcia Diesto from Extremadura and Galician Martin Sanchez Piñeiro 6/2, 6/0.
Johansson started playing padel about a year ago with friends: “Some friends played regularly, wanted to play a local league and needed someone with tennis experience. That’s when I started playing and soon got addicted to this sport. Then I played some tournaments along Fabrice”.
Padel will continue to expand
The former Swedish tennis player sees as very possible a great expansion of international padel, as it is already happening in his home country. His comments are no surprise as within the last two years over 80 courts have been built in Sweden. “The majority of courts are on the South. One of the main reasons is the weather, but a lot of courts are being built in other places and more tennis clubs incorporate them in their facilities”, said Johansson.
“Five years ago all eyes were on golf, but now it looks like a lot of athletes are choosing padel”.
Differences with Tennis
He considers that although Padel is quite similar to tennis “it’s a different sport. Looks like it will be easier but it really isn’t. It’s much more fun to play, more sociable and there is definitively a future for padel”.
In reference to his game he said, “The most difficult part was adapting to the walls. In tennis if the ball passes you it’s the end, but in padel you have a second chance to continue, its very amusing but very difficult too… I’m still adapting (laughs)”. Johansson knows that “my offensive game I think its fine, but defensively I have a lot to improve.” He believes that the technique that he must improve the most is the lobb.
Further, Johansson explained that padel is growing in popularity among other former tennis greatest and friends like Ivan Ljubicic, Jonas Borjman and Stefan Edberg, all of whom play and enjoy padel frequently.
“it’s a different sport. Looks like it will be easier but it really isn’t”