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"It's a special award and an honor for me. But I say to myself that I'm just too young to have that prize named after me. But I think in just a few years time the prize will be renamed after Roger Federer, because he's already got it so many times..." - Stefan Edberg on the Sportsmanship Award. Read the interview

An ill Slam

An article from: La Repubblica
by Gianni Clerici


Australian Open, the Swede beats Cash only thanks to the physioteraphist's intervention

Edberg wins suffering, he can't go on

MELBOURNE. I was there disappointed to make my bla-bla-bla along with Tommasi, while Pat Cash staggered disgusted, only longing for the shower, as I suddenly thought: "Only an accident can save Cash now. Or an Edberg's consciousness crisis, a sudden conversion to Buddhism or some other pacifist creed".

Strange things cross your mind when an agreement forces you to talk for five or six hours, but fortunately there's self-censure, and only a few foolish things go through.

So I kept myself and staid calm to watch Edberg start his complex serve movement, the distension of his left leg, the flexion of the right, the arm pendulum, the ball throw, the racquet swing, and finally the jump forward at the same time of the impact.

Nothing new, nothing different than the violent torsion and translation gesture that the great Swede makes some hundred times a day. Poor Stefan had just got back with feet on the ground, that I saw him bring his left hand to the back.

He got closer to the umpire, chatted with him, let himself go down on the chair. As we saw the masseur Bill Norris approach, it was evident that the Swede had called the three-minute injury time-out.

Bill Norris is nicely known in the tour for his similarity with the singer John Denver, and to have instructed a duck, that he always took around with him by the leash. While Bill convinced the unlucky Stefan to lay down the hard cement, and took one foot of his pushing it as a lever, I thought of a similar story, that happened to me last year in Wimbledon.

Carrying a very heavy suitcase up a very narrow stairway, my fourth and fifth back vertebrae had gone on strike and I had to ask for Bill's skills. I took a month to recover. Luckily for him, Stefan Edberg didn't know of that painful vicissitude of mine. After the treatment, once he absorbed the analgesic, he found the courage to go to serve.

The dramatic story assumed a grotesque turn. The almost defeated player, Cash, could fill an otherwise decisive gap. The certain winner, Edberg, risked the withdrawal due to back injury or, maybe, to the Norris' syndrome. Whatever it was, that reckless of Edberg risked an ace on the second serve and the ball, miraculously, was in.

Quite incredulous, Cash saved the first match point on 15-40, but a second ace by the invalid ended up to put him out of the tournament.

While Edberg laid on the first aid room bed, the physiotherapist faced his moment of celebrity, chased by people who knew nothing.

"Tonight I'll treat him again", concluded Norris, increasing my skepticism on Edberg's chances to go on in the tournament. Until the back pain, Stefan Edberg's match had been as exemplary, as inconsiderate had been the one played by Cash . Not only the new serve had inducted him eleven times to double fault, but had totally discouraged him.

Once more, I had admired the great civility by the crowd who hadn't reproved their hero's bad behavior. Not that resigned was the local press. Cash would answer their questions this way: "Today's match? It's my own business. Let's say I had menses". A paradoxical, but also courageous statement, for one who has been considered a symbol of Australian machismo.

Lourdes is too far from Melbourne, so I fear that Edberg, the most in form guy here in Melbourne, won't have enough time to catch up.

Out Wilander, out Becker, Lendl's chances increase dizzily, even if he doesn't look as good as in 1987. He suffered a lot in the first set against Mansdorf, and was probably helped by the Korean balls rebounds, that nevertheless bother him on the passing.

Only two touch magicians can subdue such bullets, Big Cat Mecir and John McEnroe. It would be amazing if one of them managed to get out of the fight of brutes that current tennis seems to have become.

An ill Slam

 

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