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"I played a near-perfect match. It was one of those days when you feel hardly anything can go wrong" - Stefan Edberg after the Stuttgart indoor 1994 final against Goran Ivanisevic. Read the article

The last fight

from Tennis Magazine (issue of March 2002)
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello


Stefan Edberg just after the match point in the 1987 Australian Open final against Pat Cash

It happened fifteen years ago... With this section "-15" (an already respectable reputation, right?), we have the opportunity to plunge into many famous memories that made the history of the game. In January 1987, at the last Australian Open played on Kooyong’s grass, Stefan Edberg wins his second Grand Slam title at the expense of Pat Cash, while Boris Becker loses his head (and his coach) under the sun Down Under...

The sun hits hard but Stefan Edberg is ice cold (or pretends to be, as hot as it is!) against Pat Cash’s comeback. The Swede won the first two sets in the final of the Australian Open (6/3, 6/4), but the Australian, supported by the entire crowd, rejoined him (6/3, 7/5). Kooyong, which hosts the tournament for the last time before it is moved to Flinders Park in 1988 and abandons grass for rebound ace, bows out with elegance by the grace of a fifth set.


Stefan Edberg and Pat Cash before the final
Pushed by the enthusiasm of his comeback and the cheers from the crowd, yet Cash is quickly stopped by Edberg with nerves of steel in the final sprint (6/3). As in 1985, the one who would become World No. 3 triumphs at the Australian Open and belies a reputation of “loser”, a player with no heart and guts in the heat of the fight.

Before offering this magnificent denial in front of the world (completed with another success in doubles with Anders Jarryd), the blond angel from Scandinavia hovered at an event where only the American John Letts succeeded to steal a set from him in the second round. Robert Seguso, Miloslav Mecir and Wally Masur in the semifinals were all swept away. In four sets each time, Pat Cash had beaten Yannick Noah in the quarter finals and Ivan Lendl in the semifinals.

The "coup de théâtre" of the fortnight had occurred in the fourth round where Wally Masur had surprised Boris Becker. Poor Becker! Never had he been so angry on court. Most of all, angry against himself, umpire decisions had provided matches for a fire in his skull. “Sometimes it's good for a young person like me to see that there is still work to do”, he philosophes. “The road is long. There is not always sunshine. There are also heavy clouds. I'm disappointed, but I'm not even going to kill myself. Tomorrow the sun will rise.”

Two days later, Günther Bosh, his coach, announces that he had put an end to their relationship. Boris did not want, it seems, a coach 24 hours a day. Here he is, as free as air...

In the women's tournament, the spoilsport that Hana Mandlikova can sometimes be conquered her fourth major title in the absence of Chris Evert and Steffi Graf. In the final she played a trick on Martina Navratilova, unbeaten since Roland Garros. Two sets were enough (7/5, 7/6). Mandlikova had lost nine times against Navratilova and had not won any event on the women's tour since her triumph at the US Open in 1985. But don’t say again she is inconsistent. “The first who writes it or says it one more time, I put my hand on his face,” she exclaimed. After this victory, nobody wanted.

The last fight

 

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