The Polish Power
Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski, former finalists at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, tend to find it easier playing against the elite.
For almost as long as they can remember, the Polish pair of Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski have found it easier playing against the elite, rather than lesser known teams, as that means no surprises from the other side of the net.
So the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, a tournament restricted to the leading eight teams, should suit a partnership which Americans Bob and Mike Bryan call 'The Polish Power'. A couple of years ago, they finished as the runners-up to Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor, but perhaps this November they can win what would be the biggest title of their careers. "We always find it easier to play against the top teams, because we know them pretty well," Matkowski has said. "Against other teams there is always an element of surprise, and we don't know what to expect. We're looking at what they are doing rather than focusing on our own games. Against the top teams, we can fully concentrate. Everybody knows everything about everybody. You can't throw something out of your pocket and expect it to work. Whoever plays better on any given day, wins."
Fyrstenberg has said that he and Matkowski - their highlights this season have included reaching the final of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event on the Miami cement, and winning a clay-court tournament in Hamburg - need to be nervous to play their best tennis. And they are always nervous when preparing to play against the best in the world, as they will be here in London: "Our worst matches come when we don't expect our opponents to play well. Not that we underestimate anyone, but we don't relax and make mistakes. We need nerves. You don't get confidence from practising, you get it from playing."
Lukasz Kubot, a friend and fellow Pole on the ATP World Tour, is of the opinion that Matkowski and Fyrstenberg work well together because they are very different personalities. "They match up very well together," Kubot has said. "Marcin is like a volcano, a very emotional person. Mariusz is very quiet. They are two different personalities and that is why they play so well on the court."
The pair agrees with Kubot's analysis of why their partnership works. As Fyrstenberg said of Matkowski: "He doesn't look like it, but he's a deep thinker. Whether it's finance or politics, he always seems to know what's going on. He's a strong personality on the court and off the court. He has ups and downs. He shows his emotions and he may get into a fight with an umpire or our opponents, but then he'll come back and focus on the match. And I'm the calm one, so we fit well together." Matkowski has said that Fyrstenberg is "like my wife, and that's a compliment - when I am having fights on the court he's there to calm me down, because sometimes I forget I'm losing the big picture."