MASTERS. Wilander gained the access to the final (played last night) in a strange way
Edberg lost against himself
NEW YORK. - The occasional spectator come to the Madison Square Garden on Sunday December 6th must have thought of a sudden loss of memory or of a wrong piece of news. He had read on Saturday December 5th that Stefan Edberg had beat Mats Wilander 6-2, 7-6, so winning his first series for three matches to love.
Now he found on the court the same two players and, besides, he saw that Saturday's winner was losing. After a more careful reading of the New York Times, after asking his very informed seat-neighbour, the spectator would learn that the atrocious TV-dependant Masters formula imposes in the semifinals drawing between the winner of the first round series and the two players beaten.
Such finding dates back to 1981, when Lendl threw away his match against Connors to avoid Borg, who had given away the match himself to Gene Mayer not to get tired. As people say in Venice, the patch is worse than the hole.
If that Masters was won by a player previously defeated as Borg, this is now prevented to a player who had fully deserved the final. Maybe it's true, as they say here, that you have to earn your bread day after day, in a society where homo est homini lupus.
But it's a little difficult to get in the court against a die-hard guy as Wilander, twenty-four hours after demolishing him, in an as admirable as regular match. Determined in applying a suffocating pressing, Saturday's Stefan Edberg had overwhelmed that honest baseline player Mats Wilander is.
Forcing from the start Little Stefan looked again the Lord Jesus Child able to fulminate Milan's crowd at his beginnings, right against Wilander in 1984. In the first set he had only lost two points on his serve, and he would have closed the second almost as easily, hadn't he done two bad mistakes on the first two match-points, on 5-4. He would need six more, but his win had never been questioned anyway, Wilander had been extra-defeated in a confrontation between attack and defensive tennis.
Mats is not a guy who lets himself down easily, though. He knows that Lendl's diabolic idea of winning all the matches in a year is unachievable. Intelligent as he is, Wilander could think that the chances to lose twice to Edberg in twenty-four hours were lower than those of playing a close match.
Concentrated, he deleted his negative memories and went on court with his mind clear and lucid. Edberg, instead, couldn't forget his so deserved win. His coach and guru, Tony Pickard, had vainly advised him, cheered up, motivated. From the start Sunday's Edberg would look less vivid and decided in attacking. Wilander didn't miss a thing, played percentage tennis, returned much better than Saturday.
Since also Mats is human, his faultless match would ladder a little in the second set, so allowing Stefan to get back in the match. But a line judge's mistake in the second game of the third set was enough to definitely puzzle him, to make him feel deprived.
A Swede protesting that way is a lost Swede. Stefan would never catch up and, in the secret of the dressing rooms, would even throw his T-shirt to the ground, an action equal to a couple of racquets broken by McEnroe.
So Ivan Lendl, who won easily against Becker Saturday and humiliated for the fourteenth time Brad Gilbert, finds, of the two Swedes, the one who gives him fewer problems: at least on carpet and on short distance. Lendl in fact is given favorite between 1.5 and 2. More and more serene and ironical, Mats repeats he feels so close to Lendl to hope to overcome him sooner or later.