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"Whether I end up number 100 in the world or number two or three, this will be it" - Stefan Edberg on retiring at the end of 1996. Read the article

Professors smashed

An article from: La Repubblica
by Gianni Clerici

DAVIS CUP. Swedish debacle in Gothenburg: Germany win the doubles as well and claim the trophy for the first time. Joined and beaten Edberg and Jarryd, who were two sets up

GOTHENBURG. (...) The Edberg seen against Becker was certainly better than the disastrous Wilander, but for him it's not a matter of faults, as much as of impotence, and mental refusal to play on clay.

It's fair to remind that of the two, both poor claycourt players, Boris has at least reached a semifinal at the Roland Garros, while little Stefan has always been upset there. On clay today's Becker manages to stay back, as long as he needs to prepare the attack.

Sad Little Stefan remains there to return, he who is not a rebound player. His least natural shot, the forehand, jams due to high rebounds. The serve, not followed to the net, leaves its author unbalanced and tentative. Little Stefan makes the same mistake that prevented Mac from being a great on clay as well.

He quits his beloved serve-and-volley tactic not knowing how to replace it with any other. He is neither fish, nor flesh, nor fowl, and that seems really serious for who named him "cold turkey".

This very uncertain Edberg of the singles, proved nevertheless that not water, but good blood runs through his veins, during the doubles, that made the Swedes hope for the draw and for a decisive match between Wilander and Becker on 2 all.

History was not favorable to such dreams. Only once, in 1938, the two Australian Quist and Bromwich had managed to come back against the Yankees from 0-2, and to beat them, incredibly, in the third day. Hope is not expansive, anyway, and it was also reasonable to hope in a doubles team that had already won the Us Open and the Australian Open before parting.

Just last year the doubles final in Flushing Meadows had put a very tired Edberg right into Wilander's nails, and Little Stefan had sworn to play only singles in the future. Left alone, Jarryd hadn't lost his way, though, and in spite of several partner changes, he had climbed to the top rank of the discipline.

But his conditions had looked bad in the recent doubles Masters, played in the old Royal Albert Hall in London, next to the green of Hyde Park. Not only had Jarryd stumbled in the semifinal, but he had also suffered big pains in his right shoulder, that nearly prevented him from serving. Seen Wilander's bad conditions, that was the best doubles team to line up.

So Jarryd had a tentative start, but Little Stefan looked again the one of Wimbledon, and after a beginning six break-point save, the Swedes flew two sets up. Surprisingly the worse of the German was Becker, still thinking that doubles can be won only with bomb winners.

At his side, for German luck, Eric Jelen displayed intelligence. In fact his work kept the Germans alive 'till the moment Edberg started playing a little worse. Indeed, in the first half of the match, until 3 all in the third set, Stefan had served an incredible series of 24 points won against one lost.

As captain Pilic finally managed to convince Becker to more humbleness, Edberg lost a little bit of ground, but it was Jarryd who completely collapsed.

Patient Edberg wouldn't stop cheering him up, while that poor guy lost, one after the other, five consecutive rounds of serve. The Swedes even queued in Indian file, almost as if Edberg at the net wanted to protect his team mate. But with a Becker back to his level, that terrible match of three against one had no more story.

In the end, the more credited players, the better ranked ones, were also much more tired, and less determined. I don't have other explanations to give, and there's a reason. I'm at least as shocked as the Swedes.

Professors smashed

 

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