from Il Tennis Italiano
by Vincenzo Martucci
Stefan Edberg lifts the award received after his last Grand Slam match
At his fifty-fourth performance, the champion of serve and volley leaves the Grand Slam stage. 30 years old, Stefan Edberg goes away walking on tiptoe, just like he has done for 14 seasons on the tennis courts, but still conceding some flashes of his class, some souvenirs from the Maestro who was able to capture 41 singles titles, including two at the Australian Open, two at Wimbledon and two at the US Open. According to the predictions in New York, he should have lost immediately against the Wimbledon king, Richard Krajicek, but the Dutchman’s back wasn’t ready for the extra work at the net offered by the Swedish dancer and the first upset of the Open was already packed in just three sets.
«There I saw the draw and realized I had the chance to go forward», said the little blond, so loved in New York after the exploits of ‘91 and ’92: «In the ’91 final against Courier I played the best tennis of my life». The crowd pushes him as they had done with Connors, cheers him when he overcomes Karbacher for towel throw, applauds him in the middle of the show as he dominates Haarhuis, supports him against the challenge of the young, promising, Tim Henman. Edberg reaches the second week in his last Major tournament, even if there will be still the Davis Cup and some European tournaments before the great closing in Stockholm. And everyday he has to reject the same question: «No, I didn’t think it over. I took my decision. I quit now that I’m still able to play a good tennis and to compete. This year started badly for reasons I can’t explain, but went on in the right way, and closing it this way is the best thing for me. It would have been worse if I had lost in the first week, without having a chance. The point is that I don’t know how it could work out next year, if I’m ok I can have my chances, but it also happens that I can’t give so much as I would like to. I feel the need to quit and there’s no chance you can see me in the doubles. I quit and that’s it. Even if, maybe, in six or seven months, I will miss tennis, who knows».
It’s Ivanisevic who stops him in the quarters. The first two sets are a one way story, with aces and winning serves. Then, on 5-4, with the Croat serving, the Swede plays a game like in the old days, turns rocket serves into attacking returns, flies to the net, scares the lefthander, takes him to the tie-break, unleashes the home crowd’s worst instincts and, on 7-6, he even reaches a set-point. That Ivanisevic erases with an ace, suppressing all his ambitions. The hero’s comment: «Everyone has got their time, mine has gone. It’s true, I quit, I make room for the young, but I won’t forget some moments down here. I will never forget the special atmosphere with the crowd pushing you to the limit». Comment by the president of the USTA, Lester Snyder: «Thanks for the great tennis you gave us, great champion and great gentleman».
Comment by Ivanisevic: «All of us respect him as a man and as a tennis player, but someone had to end his career. And it was me». Will there ever be another Edberg? «Really few people play serve and volley, and it’s a real shame, because it’s always better to have a big variety of styles. But today you need to be a complete player, who knows how to do many things. Sampras is the perfect model of today’s tennis: he can do whatever he wants».
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