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For those who’ve seen Robert Lindstedt on a tennis court, there’s one common takeaway from watching him play: the dude has a full tank of passion.

An energetic character who’s never been afraid to express how he’s feeling whether on a high or a low, Lindstedt enjoyed a stretch of 13 seasons with at least one ATP doubles title to his name. Gusto led him to his greatest triumph at the 2014 Australian Open alongside Lukasz Kubot after putting a run of three successive Wimbledon runner-up finishes with Horia Tecau in the rear-view mirror.

Lindstedt also represented Sweden in Davis Cup over 13 different years, including 10 in a row from 2007-16. Taking the torch from mentor Jonas Bjorkman, he went 16-6 in doubles for his nation. Lindstedt’s passion for his country and the team competition were the impetus to keep going in 2021, after a shoulder injury confirmed his appetite for tour life was no longer present.

At 44, the Sundbyberg native called it a career at the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid earlier this month. In this TENNIS Conversation, Lindstedt discusses arriving at the decision, how he came to coach Denis Kudla, fighting his innate “lazy” personality and impact of becoming a father.

After Sweden’s Davis Cup run ended, how was the flight back to Florida? Emotional? Normal?

LINDSTEDT: There's a lot of thoughts, there's a lot of emotion involved. The flight itself was the main concern, just finding one to get me back.

On the flight itself, it wasn't that bad because then it was more the excitement of seeing my wife and my son. So there was mostly joy of getting back home to Miami. I’ve known that this was coming all year and prepared myself for it.

It feels like you’re more than at peace with your decision. Was there a moment when you knew, this isn’t for me any longer?

LINDSTEDT: To be honest, I haven't missed competing. I had a shoulder injury for over a year. When I had an MRI in February this year, they told me I had two tears, needed surgery for one. I can rehab it and maybe last a few weeks.

Knowing that I was not going to compete for at least six months, I slept that night until the alarm rang the next day for the first time in 20 years. So I realized right there I need to stop doing this. It's taken too much of a toll on me. So I made the decision then this is the last time I'm going to push as hard as I can to make Davis Cup.

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When did you know the Davis Cup Finals would be your farewell event? Did your years of service and memories of wearing the blue and yellow help make that a logical end point?

LINDSTEDT: I wanted to stop in 2020 with the Davis Cup, but then obviously it got canceled. For me, I felt like I wanted to end at the highest level of our sport. I'm not thinking that because I feel like I deserve to do that. It's just pure selfish feelings that I would feel good doing it, and I knew that I had the level in me to get picked for the team. It's not called the World Group anymore, but to finish in top group, when I started in the World Group in Davis Cup, I just felt like this is a perfect poetic thing for me to hold onto and not feel like I have any regrets of quitting. I actually thought I played pretty well over there. This was 100% doing it on my own terms and I'm really thankful for that.

Tell me about that first tie against Argentina back in 2007. Some may be surprised to learn your first appearance came in a dead rubber against Juan Martin del Potro.

LINDSTEDT: I was the fifth guy for a fair amount of years. After the warmup on Saturday, I was supposed to play with Jonas Bjorkman. They came in and said Thomas Johansson is taking my spot, which broke my heart. I remember we're really happy, up 3-0 against Argentina. We're out celebrating a little bit. At two in the morning, I'm standing at the bar ordering drinks and Mats Wilander comes up, knocks on my shoulder and said, ‘It looks like you're playing singles tomorrow.’ And I was like, ‘Water please.’ That was my debut. (laughter)

How was it seeing Robin Soderling step into the captain’s role? You guys played all kinds of events together: Davis Cup, Slams, won the old World Team Cup, home tournaments in Sweden. Ever picture him doing this?

LINDSTEDT: When he's on court, the knowledge is amazing. There's no questioning that. Considering what Robin went through, what ended his career, I didn't think he would even have the energy to do this or was even longing for it. So I was a bit surprised.

I had taken a bit of a break from Davis Cup cause my body couldn't handle tour and Davis Cup. I needed more weeks to recover. But then when he became the captain and asked me, ‘Hey, can you come back and play against Chile?’ When we beat Chile, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I have to do this. This is more fun than the regular events now.’ So it's because of him that I came back into the Davis Cup team.

Are you opening to being at the helm for your country one day, whether its in Davis Cup or ATP Cup?

LINDSTEDT: I love to help. I really do. I'm direct in the way I do it, which often maybe doesn't help me. It would be a dream yes, to be Davis Cup captain. But I would have to do it on my terms.

Speaking of guidance, you’ve been working with Denis Kudla for a little over a year. Had coaching always been the transition plan from playing? And did it make hanging up a racquet any easier knowing you had an avenue of interest to pursue?

LINDSTEDT: I've always felt that I was going to stay in tennis because I love this sport. There's few sports where we get to see the world and do what we love. I didn't know what it was going to be, but then the more I played and the older I got, I was like, 'Coaching sounds like a good thing for me.' And I felt like I saw the game pretty well, know what to tell guys, when to tell it. I can read guys on court better than I can off court. So I always felt like I have to try this. And then when I started coaching Denis, I realized it's more rewarding than actually playing yourself.

Kudla and Lindstedt are pictured during a practice session at September's San Diego Open.

Kudla and Lindstedt are pictured during a practice session at September's San Diego Open.

How did the collaboration with Denis come about?

LINDSTEDT: It grew a bit organically. We have a mutual friend, Farshid Arshid, who loves tennis and helps Denis a bit with his off-court stuff. They floated the idea to me around 2018-19. I was very interested, but was still trying to play. I told them they wouldn't get all of me. I wouldn't be the best coach for Denis, but if you still want to try, I'm game. I wanted to be honest with that. I don't like doing things halfway. So then they said, ‘Yeah, maybe not a good fit. We'll wait.’

They came back again and wanted to try it. I saw the end of my tunnel. I wanted to play a really limited schedule and then my shoulder injury happened. So it turned out best for both of us. So it was just like, 'Okay, I guess this is the way we're going now.' Being at the end of my career, it made it easier to take the opportunity and just realize that my playing days are limited.

Let’s take a step back. Twenty-three titles, nearly 450 match victories, an array of winning partnerships. When you look at everything, what satisfies you most about your time on tour? Is it the triumphs, the relationships, the longevity, the personal growth?

LINDSTEDT: It's a mix of everything. Obviously the wins, I'm really happy with. The only thing that pains me a little bit about the titles is that I have 23 wins, but 25 losses in finals. I wanted to finish on a positive record there and reach 50 finals. Apart from that, if you take the titles aside, what I'm most proud of is how I managed to turn my own career around and handle setbacks. When I started playing doubles, I was a bit overweight and felt like, 'Oh, I feel like I hit the ball better than most guys, but my ranking's not good enough.' So with the help of a lot of guys like Bjorkman, Johansson, Fidde (Fredrik) Rosengren and my fitness coach Ali Ghelem, I decided I have to become professional.

I remember playing with Jarkko Nieminen. I went to Helsinki in November, December. I thought I was going to hang with Jarkko but he went into the army. I was alone working with our physio/fitness guy, Jarmo Ahonen, between eight to 10 hours a day. I lost over 10 kilos in three weeks, and just came back to Australia fairly fit.

Throughout my journey, I had all these injuries and I was the kind of guy that thought, 'Okay, I either let it break me or I take care of it.' If I got an injury at noon, I'd figure out what my rehab was and begin by 5 the same day. If it wasn't too hard, I would just straight on try to get better and come back quicker. Despite all the injuries, I managed to come back and keep winning titles. So that is something that I am really proud of.

I went against what I think I have is a fairly lazy personality, but I forced myself to work hard and I continued that path. I understood that this is what you have to do. You just have to beat yourself every day. You don't have to beat the other guys because you can't control their level of tennis. You can only control yourself. And if you do that, you're going to keep getting better.

One former partner I have to ask about is Horia Tecau. You guys were an exciting team to watch, had some tremendous highs and also some gut-wrenching losses. He also stepped away last month at the age of 36. Was this a surprise in any way? Did you discuss the concept of retirement?

LINDSTEDT: That he stopped wasn't a surprise. We've talked a fair bit about it. Last time we sat down during lunch in Indian Wells, I was like, 'Are you really sure man?' Cause he's still playing really good tennis, reaching the ATP Finals. So his game is still there. He just couldn’t do it anymore. It’s amazing that he has that strength not to be fooled by just chasing the titles or money. He doesn't have it in his heart, so he knows he’s going to be a lesser version of himself.

We didn't really talk about how we saw the process or how we're doing it. We both just had made the decision. He supported me, I supported him. We've stayed in touch over the years and saw each other at tournaments. When someone did something good, we always made sure that we reached out to show our support. If there's anybody on tour that I wanted to do well, it was always Horia.

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Of Lindstedt's 23 tour-level crowns, 10 were with Tecau by his side.

Of Lindstedt's 23 tour-level crowns, 10 were with Tecau by his side.

Making it as a professional athlete requires such a selfish mindset. How has that perspective been altered since getting married and becoming a father?

LINDSTEDT: As an athlete, your every day is what do I need to get better? What do I have to do to get better? What do I have to eat? How much do I have to sleep? When you have a child, it quickly goes from ‘What about me?’ to ‘What can I do to help?’ The energy of my life just changed from everything centered around me to providing, guiding, all of this. It's just so nice to not have to think about yourself so much.

We couldn't be happier. We've been very lucky, he's a great kid. It’s horrible to be away. But coming home, it's the only thing that matters. In Stockholm, I brought them over to Sweden for the first time. We lost in the quarters and I was surprised by after all these years, how much losing still hurts. I just hate it, I went up to the lounge, Sandro and Tina was there. I just picked him up and was like, 'Yeah, I'm okay. I'm okay.' It just changes everything.

Are sports in Sandro’s future?

LINDSTEDT: If he wants to, and feels joy in it, he'll be a great athlete. He's a big boy. He's six months old, he's wearing 12 months clothes. We went to the doctor, he's in the 98th percentile when it comes to height. I'm hoping it doesn't have to be tennis. We'll try basketball.

Out of everyone you played with, whether in a committed partnership, one-off event or mixed doubles, who:

Were you the most naturally in sync with?

LINDSTEDT: Horia and I, we were pretty in sync even though we're completely different. He's the introvert and I'm the one that shows everything. So there was a balance there that really worked with us. Horia had to handle a lot from me because I was the one that always expressed my opinion.

But for me, that worked really well because he was dealing with his stuff inside. I think the results are there to show it. For sure, he's the one.

Could make you laugh when you needed it?

LINDSTEDT: I was very difficult that way. If we lost, it took a long time for me to get over things. I couldn't sleep. I would go through the matches. I'd stay up until three, four in the morning analyzing that point, this point. So it was very tough to make me laugh after a loss. And I'm not sure anybody actually mastered that because I'm too stubborn that way.

Surprised you the most with their abilities?

LINDSTEDT: The few weeks I played with Rajeev Ram. He may not be Usain Bolt, but he's always in the right spot, and he always hits such a clean ball. I felt like I was quicker, but he was still reading and getting to balls sometimes quicker than I did. So that was really impressive to me, and he's doing really well right now.

How would you like to go down as Robert Lindstedt, the ATP player?

LINDSTEDT: I would love to be remembered as one of the hardest working doubles guys ever. It doesn't mean that I'm the number one, but I would like to be remembered as one of the hardest working ones.