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"I won five matches and the title, which is most important of all. But I also gained a lot of confidence and worked on improving my serve and my game in general" - Stefan Edberg after his victory in Washington in 1994. Read the article

Madison's gentlemen

An article from: La Repubblica
by Gianni Clerici

Edberg beat Wilander in a never-ending match. For about an hour Stefan played an attack tennis, that reminded the old fans of Sedgman's execution quickness, of Gonzalez's serve power. Then he successfully resisted to the opponent's come back.

NEW YORK. On Stefan Edberg's smooth forehead disagreement is remarked by an imperceptible line. "It's unfair that you journalists talk of us addressing to the Swedes" he states. "We are all different, ours is a country as long as Italy. I don't think I have much in common with a guy like Mats Wilander: I even quit the two-handed-backhand not to look like him".

Stefan smiles to let everybody understand that his rivalry with Mats Wilander is totally occasional, certainly the two don't look like Bartali and Coppi, the Swedish tennis fans don't split in two parties to support them.

"What we all have in common is to be provincial, often even rural", admits Edberg, after a reflection as slow as his heart-beats, 40 per minute, just like Bjorn Borg's, the Swedish legendary player. "When you grow in a small town, you're not very rich, and you love sports, you have only either football or hockey, or tennis".

Mats Wilander smiles, as we reveal him Edberg's little malice, that he would speak with his wife Sonia's South-African accent. "Certainly I'm not a macho" he smiles. "Sonia is an ideal wife, she even teaches me English".

Asked of an opinion on Stefan he states that his break on the scene, in 1984, relieved him a lot. "In Sweden they had decided I was something like a reincarnation of Borg. It wasn't true at all. Stefan's achievements, as those of Nystrom, Jarryd and others, let me breath and be myself".

The calm man of international tennis remains an example of humbleness and politeness as Edberg. After beating Cash, in Friday night's match, Wilander admitted he still has to improve on the indoor courts, that "once I really didn't like. Now I accept them". 

Against the good current Cash, Mats won in two straight sets, while in the first evening, Edberg had needed three. "It's incredible how you can't take your mind off a moment in this sport. On 5-4, 30-0 I didn't serve deep enough, and Cash took some risks, of course, and troubled me immediately".

The humblest Wilander caught up immediately, saving a set-point himself, with such a sprint to make the best Mennea envious. On Saturday, the two peaceful rivals rallied together for some minutes, in the morning, as happened on Flushing Meadows Center Court before the Us Open semifinal, won by Wilander.

Such a polite attitude didn't certainly reduce the pugnacity of the two, able to play every point almost as if it were a match point during their match. Talking match-points Edberg needed to play even six, to finally convince the irreducible Wilander of a daily inferiority. "I can still hope to win this Masters" - would say Wilander, always composed, even smiling.

"The round-Robin could still reward the baseline players" smiled also Stefan Edberg, certainly more serene. For about an hour Stefan played an attack tennis, that reminded the old fans of Sedgman's execution quickness, of Gonzalez's serve power.

Such an accurate violence would force Wilander to gain just two points on the opponent's serve, in the entire first set. Down 2-4 in the second set Wilander seemed lost, kept his breath to see Edberg's ball of 5-2 go just out.

Shiny Edberg's tennis faded a little, and a very determined Wilander managed to get back, playing with extraordinary grim on the most important points, and, among these, even 5 match points, two on 3-5 two more on 4-5 and, finally, one in the tie-break.

As admirable, Stefan Edberg, managed not to completely lose his serve penetration, and, come to the net, saw Wilander's last passing go out, after an hour and 26 minutes of match.

 

Madison's gentlemen

 

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