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PostPosted: 23 Mar 2010, 08:15 
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Hi!

About two weeks ago I conducted an interview with one of the greats in TT, Jan-Ove Waldner. The reason for interview was a discussion about Waldner I had on another forum and since I know Waldner personally I took the chance to interview him.

We met for lunch and talked for a couple of hours with my computer and questions on the table beside us so that I easily could take notes from what he was saying. During the whole interview he was eager and interested to answer all my questions even though I lied a little bit about the numbers of questions when we talken before the interview. If you have any questions about the interview feel free to ask me right away.

Many of the questions were asked by the forum members of another forum and on my webpage and some of them is from me directly.

I don't consider this to be a great piece of art but I hope that you enjoy hearing what Waldner has to say about things. And I also have to ask you not to use this interview without my written permission, that was one of the conditions from Waldner. I also would like to send a great big thank you to brabhamista for helping to translate this into this english version. If anyone is interested in the swedish version I have published this on my website (www.pingisfan.se)

The second part of the interview will deal with equipment and some related questions. It will also be about recent rules changes and Waldners thoughts about that.


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PostPosted: 23 Mar 2010, 08:21 
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The first question about you is often what equipment you use. So, what rubbers do you use these days?
Coppa JO Gold on forehand and Coppa JO Platin on backhand.

Which blade do you play with?
Right now I use Waldner Senso Carbon.

How important is the equipment for you?
It is naturally very important and I always have good stuff to play with.

Do you try out a lot of blades and rubbers to find the best match for you?
No, not really. I know what I want and I am happy when I have that. Jörgen Persson tries out a lot more equipment than I do, for example.

So you have never been an EJ?
No, never.

Have you changed a lot of equipment since the speedglue ban?
No, not really, but the rubbers themselves have changed a lot. However, I will try out a new faster blade now and I guess that is the closest I am to a change these days.

What kind of equipment did you use during the following championships?
1989
1992
1997
2000

I really don’t remember. As I said, I was never really into equipment.

What are your thoughts on long pips and anti players? What are their pros and cons?
It is hard to become good with anti as it – per definition – makes it hard to add spin to the ball. Long pips suit defenders very well though. In spite of that it is very hard to become a really good defender these days. It is no longer enough to be good defensively, you will need a very good offensive game as well. That means that to become a really good modern defender, you will have to practise twice as much. If you look at Wang Xi, our defender in the Fulda team, I am sure he would be in the World Top 50 if he played a purely offensive game.

In the 1989 World Team final you played the Chinese team with Chen Longcan, Teng Yi and Jiang Jialiang. Did all the Swedes speedglue at that time?
Yes, we all did.

Did the Chinese as well?
Teng Yi did. Of that I am almost certain. I am less sure about the other two, but I think they did. After all, both Chen Longcan and Jiang Jialiang were traditional penholders.

*

After opponents and equipment related questions we move on to rules and changes to the game.
What do you think about the booster ban?
It is OK.

Is boosting common among the world players?
I don't know.

These two answers seem to come more from Waldner the Diplomat than Waldner the Private Person, right?
Well, you can put it like that if you want.

How do you feel about the ban of frictionless pimples?
It is wrong to eradicate a style of play in this way. It would have been different had the rubbers still been the same colour on both sides, but as it is now it is just a daft ban.

How have the new rules affected you personally?
No hidden serves: A small negative change for me, but I think I have adapted pretty well.

40 mm ball: I think it has led to less spin and less entertaining table tennis. More players play with less imagination and more like robots these days.

Sets to 11 instead of 21: Perfectly fine.

Ban on speedgluing: Speedgluing should have been allowed to continue providing it was harmless. As things stand now, we face problems we didn't have to deal with previously, such as the disqualifications of Wang Liqin, Adrian Crisan and Petr Korbel.


I'll cut in here. What is your view on Wang Liqin's recent disqualification?
It is perfectly fine when someone uses illegal equipment. Everybody knows the rules.

Does this affect your esteem for him?
No, not at all.

Back to rule changes; how did they affect you? Negatively or positively?
I cannot say I was affected more than anyone else, so on balance things stayed pretty much the same.

In what way has the game changed during your career? I am not thinking about rules now, but rather how the actual play has evolved.
The game has become much faster. Also, we see more robot-like players these days and fewer styles of play.


Are these changes caused by equipment or training methods?
They are connected and consequences of each other. When the equipment becomes faster, the players must become faster and stronger. Evolution is inevitable. All you need to do is to look at the way I played in the beginning of the 80's as opposed to the end of the 80's. Or compare the play today with that of ten years ago. The differences are quite big and this shows the natural progression when equipment and training methods develop.


What would you like to change in table tennis?
I want more big and serious competitions or better Pro Tour competitions, for example. They have stagnated and not really evolved for a long time. The developments on the web and on TV is a good thing, but it could be even better. The situation in China is better than anywhere else, in this respect.

Let's have a look at some rule changes. I'll suggest some and you comment briefly on them.

A larger ball?
Bad.

A higher net?
Bad.

A larger table?
Bad.

I think there has been too many changes recently. Changes make it hard for non-players outside table tennis to follow what is going on. Apart from that, the changes you mentioned above, would carry huge development costs for manufacturers, costs they will have to push onto the players and clubs. Furthermore, I believe the above changes will lead to even less styles of play and more robot-like players.

What are your thoughts on two players per nation in the Olympics and at the Worlds?
It is useless. The very best players should play. If a certain country is the best, then so be it. Let the others work to catch up instead.

*

Third part:

A lot of people wonder how Waldner has developed his style of play and his ability to read the game. Some questions also touch on his tactical sense.

After this we spent some time discussing Swedish and European table tennis compared to Chinese table tennis – always an interesting and current subject.

All in part three...

---------------------------------------------------------------
Part 1, Opponents: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=11881
Part 2, Equipment
Part 3, His style, state of TT: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=11916
Part 4, Career and some advice: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=11958


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PostPosted: 23 Mar 2010, 08:56 
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Very interesting read. Thanks to all concerned. Really looking forward to the third part.

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PostPosted: 23 Mar 2010, 09:03 
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Very interesting , many thanks for the interview.
His comments could have easily come from most of the forum members here. He sounds like he just would like to see more people just playing and he agrees with the FP shouldn't have been baned, and he dosn't like any of the new ITTF suggestions.
Very interesting comments about his gear and and about EJing and the future of Table Tennis. We need him in the ITTF commitee lol

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PostPosted: 23 Mar 2010, 09:04 
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Wow, great stuff Anger manager!

Quote:
How do you feel about the ban of frictionless pimples?
It is wrong to eradicate a style of play in this way. It would have been different had the rubbers still been the same colour on both sides, but as it is now it is just a daft ban.

Great to hear this, and this type of comment from one of the TT greats, should give some ammunition to get rid of this rule!

Why do you think he would not comment on boosters a bit more Anger manager? He's been so open and honest in his other comments, but seemed so diplomatic for this question?

Quote:
Ban on speedgluing: Speedgluing should have been allowed to continue providing it was harmless. As things stand now, we face problems we didn't have to deal with previously, such as the disqualifications of Wang Liqin, Adrian Crisan and Petr Korbel.

This is pretty much what we've been saying as well. Even Adham Sharara has stated in this forum, that he would support scrapping the booster ban, as long as there are no health issues.

Quote:
I think there has been too many changes recently. Changes make it hard for non-players outside table tennis to follow what is going on. Apart from that, the changes you mentioned above, would carry huge development costs for manufacturers, costs they will have to push onto the players and clubs. Furthermore, I believe the above changes will lead to even less styles of play and more robot-like players.

Good point again... I think players may not realise that in the end THEY are paying for the development costs.

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PostPosted: 23 Mar 2010, 22:31 
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Thanks a lot, Anger manager. Excellent stuff and much appreciated :D

haggisv wrote:
Why do you think he would not comment on boosters a bit more Anger manager? He's been so open and honest in his other comments, but seemed so diplomatic for this question?

He is still an active player and using boosters are not legal. It would be a bit silly of him to say outright that he does use them, IMHO. Everybody uses boosters, but that does not mean you can say it out loud. As long as you don't, you'll be fine, but if you break the "code of silence" and do say, you could be dealt with as you are effectively admitting to breaking the rules. Anyway, that is my take on it :)

Quote:
Ban on speedgluing: Speedgluing should have been allowed to continue providing it was harmless. As things stand now, we face problems we didn't have to deal with previously, such as the disqualifications of Wang Liqin, Adrian Crisan and Petr Korbel.

Hmm, I think Waldner forgets that VOCs are not the only reason for DQ's lately. The ITTF are now enforcing the 4mm rule which was the reason Crisan was DQ'ed and Boll nearly was at the same tournament. Bolls racket was over the limit, but within the error margin IIRC, so he was a lucky boy.

In the speedgluing era, nobody checked the thickness of the rubbers.

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PostPosted: 23 Mar 2010, 23:10 
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Brilliant post again Angermanager. This was even more interesting reading than the first part. And based on Waldner's comments on how the game has evolved and thefuture of the game I think he should be president of the ITTF.

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PostPosted: 24 Mar 2010, 04:01 
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PostPosted: 24 Mar 2010, 04:11 
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brabhamista wrote:
Thanks a lot, Anger manager. Excellent stuff and much appreciated :D

haggisv wrote:
Why do you think he would not comment on boosters a bit more Anger manager? He's been so open and honest in his other comments, but seemed so diplomatic for this question?

He is still an active player and using boosters are not legal. It would be a bit silly of him to say outright that he does use them, IMHO. Everybody uses boosters, but that does not mean you can say it out loud. As long as you don't, you'll be fine, but if you break the "code of silence" and do say, you could be dealt with as you are effectively admitting to breaking the rules. Anyway, that is my take on it :)

Quote:
Ban on speedgluing: Speedgluing should have been allowed to continue providing it was harmless. As things stand now, we face problems we didn't have to deal with previously, such as the disqualifications of Wang Liqin, Adrian Crisan and Petr Korbel.

Hmm, I think Waldner forgets that VOCs are not the only reason for DQ's lately. The ITTF are now enforcing the 4mm rule which was the reason Crisan was DQ'ed and Boll nearly was at the same tournament. Bolls racket was over the limit, but within the error margin IIRC, so he was a lucky boy.

In the speedgluing era, nobody checked the thickness of the rubbers.


Is'nt so that boosters make your rubbers thicker and thats why they get disqualified?

And Waldner and many of the bests doesn't use boosters.. I think (can't say know) they get their rubbers "ready" to play with. But of course they can't say that.


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PostPosted: 24 Mar 2010, 08:05 
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Anger manager wrote:
Is'nt so that boosters make your rubbers thicker and thats why they get disqualified?

Yes, they do anf that is one side of the problem, but Korbel and Wang fell to the ENEZ and not by breaking the 4mm rules as far as I remember.

Anger manager wrote:
And Waldner and many of the bests doesn't use boosters.. I think (can't say know) they get their rubbers "ready" to play with. But of course they can't say that.

In my view they all use boosters, but in a "I am not involved" way. They themselves do not touch boosters. It is done for them at the factory, the so called "factory tuning". Still the same thing to me. They still use boosters, but without really acknowledging knowing about it, if you like. They just play with what they get. A bit like sports dopers saying "The trainer promised them blue and pink pills were vitamins..." ;)

However, it is just an example and boosters can not really be compared to doping, IMHO :)

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PostPosted: 24 Mar 2010, 08:14 
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Quote:
In my view they all use boosters, but in a "I am not involved" way. They themselves do not touch boosters. It is done for them at the factory, the so called "factory tuning". Still the same thing to me. They still use boosters, but without really acknowledging knowing about it, if you like. They just play with what they get. A bit like sports dopers saying "The trainer promised them blue and pink pills were vitamins..." ;)

However, it is just an example and boosters can not really be compared to doping, IMHO :)


This is exactly my opinion also.


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PostPosted: 25 Mar 2010, 20:15 
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Added cross linking between the interview parts to make it easier to find them. The links are at the bottom of the interview posts.

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PostPosted: 26 Mar 2010, 12:45 
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Anger manager wrote:
How do you feel about the ban of frictionless pimples?
It is wrong to eradicate a style of play in this way. It would have been different had the rubbers still been the same colour on both sides, but as it is now it is just a daft ban.

This is a great quote. I hope the national associations listen to Waldner when the issue for rescinding the ban comes up this year at the ITTF AGM.

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PostPosted: 26 Mar 2010, 20:01 
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I am sure those who want FLP reinstated will use it. And so they should.

There is little else to do than to agree with Waldners argument, IMHO. It makes sense.

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PostPosted: 28 Mar 2010, 10:19 
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speedplay wrote:
Anger manager wrote:

Is'nt so that boosters make your rubbers thicker and thats why they get disqualified?

And Waldner and many of the bests doesn't use boosters.. I think (can't say know) they get their rubbers "ready" to play with. But of course they can't say that.


Using boosters is, obviously, against the rules regardless if the rubber exceeds 4mm or not, the thickness just happens to be pretty much the only way they can catch them, since the ENEZ don't react to boosters.

There have been discussions about the square "box" on rubbers, not sure if this is yet in action, but if this "box" is stretched, they will also be caught, since stretching also is illegal.

I like how JO have a very practical way of looking at things, like the frictionless LP ban. That was more about banning a style then a rubber. While I can't say I'm a fan of the style, I don't like the rule.

A bit disappointed to find out he isn't an EJ (Equipment Junkie) as I was sure this was the road to success ;)

I do hope you get the opportunity to do a similar interview with Persson as well, as he seems to be more interested in this then JO. One thing I would like to ask, perhaps of the record since they are both sponsored players who don't want to bite the hand that feeds them, is, is it true that they, as pro's get different rubbers then the one's we can buy? Or, could JO walk in to any given TT-shop and pick up a sheet of Gold and expect it to perform the same way as the ones he get directly from Donic?


They get better rubbers then we do. I'll get back on the subject later on but the best players get the best kind of rubbers and then the sponsored players get the "next round" of rubbers and the it's the rest for us. But more on this later on..


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