by Daniele Azzolini
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
Enthusiasm for Edberg, winner on the Frenchman Boetsch. Well also Chang. Furlan through, beating Novacek. Nothing to do for Pescosolido, instead, beaten by Novacek. Out Berasategui, seeded 5, and Rosset, 11.
Stefan Edberg plays a backhand during the 1995 Rome first round against Arnaud Boetsch
The Italian crowd had forgotten Edberg's style of play. The Swede had skipped the tournament in the last eleven years, when he first came here he was still a boy and lost on the side grounds, at the second round, if we remember well. Now he is almost in retirement age, and to see him among the violent and muscled kids of today's tennis, he really looks like an old fashioned guy.
He cares for appearance, for style, gives back controversial points, never takes advantage of a submissive chair umpire. He doesn't argue, doesn't complain, doesn't gesticulate, doesn't swear, doesn't look at his opponent in anger, he is perfect.. He also plays in a strange way. Stefan Edberg is the last of the textbook players, a handbook of tennis that the other players have forgotten who knows where, if they've ever read it.
29 years old, professional for 12, Edberg has crossed two different tennis generations, the one of the elegant gentlemen and this one of the hard hitting bad guys. And he ended up becoming a rare pearl, an object from antiques or exposure, like a bright and very fragile Bohemian crystal. He knows it, he is perfectly aware of his diversity. And he is concerned about it. Not for himself, but for our sport, that - he says - sometimes he hardly recognizes. That's why he raises his warning...
«I don't see another Edberg around... no, I really believe that it won't be easy to see another player with my game style on the courts of the professional tour. Very good players are coming out, but nobody plays serve and volley. This style of game, my style of game, is now dying, and I'm very sorry about that. Sadly I really don't know how to help it...»
The crowd is aware of it. They supported him, as it's usually done with the old stars: respect, love and a bit of regret. It's thanks to those cheers that the Swede went through a match that was going wrong. The Frenchman Boetsch, an eternal promise, a talented but emotionally very unstable player, a firm supporter of Hubbard's Scientology sect, after a bad first set had succeded in challenging him. «I felt a lot of support around me - thanked Edberg - I needed it. In fact, my game magically started working again». True. In the third set Edberg was found his momentum again. Attacking, naturally.
They say the court is very fast. Edberg enjoys it. Furlan defines it «fast like a bullet». But this is not necessarily bad. Our player set up a game structure that can suit to almost every need. Against Novacek (seeded number 15, although the Czech came from an injury stop), Furlan dictated the rhythm of the match, he forced, served well, tried offensive solutions. And he won easily, in straight sets, and that's what matters.
Now he'll meet Kucera, another Czech, but younger than Novacek. «I know him well, I know what to do». Winning would mean a match against Chang, who yesterday beat Mark Philippoussis, a kid who is already as tall as a pivot and hits terrificly hard. It will be terrible to face him on hard courts, but on clay Chang's shock absorbers got the better. So Furlan is through, but not Pescosolido against that Reneberg he had easily beaten last year: he lost in two tie-breaks 6-7(2), 6-7(5).
And now controversies. There are some around the Village («It's dirty», «It's mismanaged»), but Ion Tiriac confirmed confidence in his colleagues. There's also who wonders if Panatta and Gaudenzi (who plays his first match tonight against Olhovskyi) are friends or not. The captain shrugs his shoulders, doesn't care. And he's right.
- Roger Federer about Stefan Edberg in press conference
- Edberg in Rome with Federer!
- Norman: «I thought Edberg could never beat me»
- 1996, Edberg's last appearance at Foro Italico
- Happy Birthday, Stefan!!!
- Edberg to Retire With Style and in Style
- Edberg, one more year and then good-bye
- Edberg supports tobacco sponsorship in sport
- Champ Agassi, Edberg provide tennis as hot as weather in D.C. final
- Edberg beats Rafter and returns to Classic final
- Stefan the Sheikh
- «One more Major before I quit»
- A matter of family
- Edberg Regains Form, Beats Stoltenberg
- Edberg: 71 minutes, $87,500