from Le Temps.ch
by Isabelle Musy
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
Stefan Edberg in Zurich
Now a businessman, Stefan Edberg lives away from the circuit. In Zurich, where he was playing the tournament of former champions, the Swede has spoken. About his life and the evolution of the sport.
At 46, Stefan Edberg still has traces of a spectacular attack game that made him a world leader and winner of six Grand Slam titles. Friday night at the Zurich Open - tournament of former champions - he served some balls at 187 km/ h against a Henri Leconte forced to give up after two sets. After his shower, the Swede took the time to have this interview. To talk about his new life, the evolution of the game in general and especially Roger Federer.
- Le Temps: Unlike others, for example Mats Wilander, we no longer see you on the Tour that often. What is your new life like?
- Stefan Edberg: I have been very busy since I've quit playing tennis. It keeps on occupying a small part of my life, because I practice several times a week. But I do it for fun, keep fit and participate occasionally in tournaments like this on the ATP Champions Tour. Otherwise, I have a family. Two children, 18 and 15 years old, with whom I spent much time in the last 15 years. And on the business side, I am running a finance company I'm highly involved in. It took me between 10 and 15 years to get to know and understand the functioning of markets. I also have a business in real estate. I have not stopped since retiring from the circuit and then I got to that stage where I try to reduce some activities. I feel it is time to relax more. I am conscious of having the privilege of choosing what I do with my life, which is not the case for most people. I can decide if I want to work hard or not.
- What is the most tiring, your current life or that of a champion?
- They are such different worlds that it is difficult to compare them. Being a tennis player required much work and sacrifice. But it was a choice and when you do, you have the chance to live your passion. A life with young children and work is almost more compelling and leaves less time for yourself. But I liked to find a more normal life after that of the gipsy tennis tour.
- Do your children realize what you have done? Because they have not seen you play...
- Not because they were too young. And that's a good thing. They know my background a bit, but we do not talk too much. I have not told them many things and they didn't ask me too many questions either. For them, I'm a dad and not a former tennis player. That is better for our relationship.
- Is having been a great champion an advantage in your second career?
- That is clear. This brings you discipline and rigor. There are plenty of qualities transposable from top tennis to business. Moreover, companies have increasingly used athletes because they know they have a higher capacity for work than the average person. They are capable of steering a course to achieve high goals. This is clearly an advantage.
- What is your view on current tennis?
- The level is incredibly high. There are real superstars on the circuit. We saw a little golden age of tennis with the current generation. That makes the sport even more attractive. My fingers are crossed. I hope they continue to play a while. Because once Roger and Rafa will be gone, they will leave a great void. Certainly there will be Djokovic. But the presence of Federer and Nadal is something really special. Replacing them will be almost impossible. When they are no longer there, tennis will really miss them.
- Federer says you're the player he inspired to...
- He is a very sensible person (laughs...).
- Are you proud of that?
- Of course. When you're young, you have players you take example from and I am pleased to have been a model for him. I have tremendous respect for Roger. He is a great ambassador for tennis. I really hope he will continue for some years.
- He would like to play more serve and volley, as you did, but it became almost impossible...
- It is very difficult indeed. Due to the changing of the game, slower surfaces, softer balls, harder strings. And it's almost too late for him because it's very natural to practise serve and volley. But I think it would give him an advantage in the coming years to play serve and volley 10 or 15% of the times. A slight increase in his game would make it harder for his opponents and give him an extra advantage.
- Right now, Federer is having a second life...
- It's true, he is very fit. He is on an incredible winning streak and has a serious chance to become world number one. If he plays well in Miami and on clay, everything is possible. If he can arrange to be on top at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, he may well win another Grand Slam. He has not been far from that last year. If he stays where he is right now, if he does not get injured, anything can happen. He has the victory in him right now.
- At Indian Wells, he seems to have found the solution against Nadal. What advice would you give him to help him beat Rafa?
- It's hard to say. The difference is so little, a few points here and there. I think it's psychological, first and foremost.
- What do you think of John Isner?
- He plays very well, given his size. If he can develop his game a bit, he can become very dangerous.
- We see more and more big players...
- Everyone is getting bigger and stronger, but the ideal size is between 180 and 195 cm. Beyond that, it's complicated.
- Has the game become more physical?
- The serve and volley is more physical than the game from the baseline, because it is faster and requires greater responsiveness. However, tennis has become very powerful. And without physical assets, today you have no chance.
- Players complain seasons are too long...
- I think if they had the schedule I had, they would complain even more. I was very involved in the Davis Cup (he won four times) and my seasons were longer than now. We had somehow seven consecutive seasons.
- What happened to the Swedish tennis?
- A kind of standardization. Competition from other sports, too. Swedish tennis is in poor health. We should start from scratch. I think there are some promising 16 year old guys, but it will take some time before they arrive on the circuit. It will remain empty for a while. I am part of a lucky generation who participated in a revolution. At that time, they built many indoor courts, we had excellent coaches and a good Federation. We worked hard but in the right direction.
- What is your fondest memory and your biggest regret?
- I do not have too many regrets. If I look at my career, I'm quite satisfied. Having been world number one is probably what I'm most proud of. For it's very difficult to achieve. Otherwise, winning my first Wimbledon was a big highlight for a Swede.
- Stefan Edberg & Tony Pickard Mr Class and his teacher
- "Federer should skip the claycourt season," says former coach Edberg
- "Federer is exceptional, but tennis needs a new name too"
- "I am a happy person"
- Federer criticizes young players: "I wish they volleyed more"
- Edberg: from dream to reality
- Stefan talks about his passive arena in Växjö
- «He's one of the smartest players I have seen»
- On the ball in the Western Algarve
- "My first time in Turkey"
- It was better before
- Many fond memories for Stefan
- "It was a crazy situation"
- Stefan interviewed on the Australian Open
- Edberg: «It's hard for Djokovic to repeat 2011»