by Daniele Azzolini
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
Yesterday Stefan Edberg debuted at the "Internazionali" beating Siemerink. And showing his unmistakable elegance. The Swede has never won in Rome. In November he'll call it quits with tennis.
Stefan Edberg and Jan Siemerink after their hand shake in Rome 1996
Stefan Edberg's golden approach to retirement is in the Media Guide figures, the tennis Bible, where the luckier son of Vastervik's police chief, finds himself happily set between Boris Becker and John McEnroe, right behind Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras. He's at 20 million dollars won in prizemoney, an amount he reached right this year. He is the third to do it and you should trust the Media Guide. Even if the count were wrong, noone would be so maniac to count again.
So, take it or leave it. And surely, to get back to Edberg, he took more than he left, in a career that is now getting close to the thirteenth year of tennis.
Even now, that he is a step away from retirement, already announced and repeted (there's already a date: November, Stockholm tournament, last tribute to his country), Stefan keeps on being a man who is worth several million dollars a year: at least one of prizemoney, and not less than four in sponsorships. Ok, it's the seventh part of what Michael Jordan earns. But aren't 5 billion lire a year enough to live a happy life, even without tennis?
The man is proud, in spite of his looks of nice, even too nice (former) boy. Edberg is not happy to retire, you can guess it and it's understandable, as he is forced, tournament after tournament, to answer if he's going to think it over.
But Rome is a stimulating city for him, maybe because he knew it late, compared to his normal stages on the tour, and for once he gives us less usual thoughts. He came back to Foro Italico last year, after eleven years: when he first came he was still a boy and lost on the side courts, if we remember well.
«Here you live in the middle of history», says Edberg, «and it's a very special feeling». History and good food, he summarizes, but these are digressions. More interesting his statements on the tennis tastes of our country, «the only one still able to appreciate serve and volley tennis». «I'm aware - goes on Edberg - that few play my kind of tennis, now. Maybe because it's more and more necessary to be able to play from the baseline. Sampras is a good example from this point of view: he knows how to play both from behind and at the net, when he needs it. But serve and volley is not definitively dead. Sooner or later it will come back. Maybe in fifteen years, but it will come back».
With these weapons he beat Siemerink, not the easiest opponent, and the Roman crowd appreciated and supported him a lot. To see him among the violent and muscled kids of today's tennis, he really looks like an old fashioned guy. The last of the textbook players. And he ended up becoming a rare pearl, an object from antiques, like a Bohemian crystal. Bright and very fragile.
Rain wins in this edition of the "Internazionali". Once again matches are played at night until late. The Italians conformed to the situation. For them it's deep night or you can say that when it rains it pours. Caratti resists two hours against Schalken, but he forgets to attack him when it matters. Pescosolido plays some masterly shots, but Pioline dictates the game. Camporese fights for two sets but gives up in the third against Vacek. And Pozzi had looked too light in the afternoon for Washington. It's easy to count: they are all out, four out of four.
- The 1996 US Open draw controversy
- Federer's bad luck reminds of Edberg's 1996 DC final
- Roger Federer about Stefan Edberg in press conference
- Edberg in Rome with Federer!
- 1996, Edberg's last appearance at Foro Italico
- «I should no longer do this to myself...»
- "The quiet and the wild"
- Becker trims Edberg to earn Queen's title
- Gentleman Stefan
- Edberg, a kiss good-bye
- Game, Set, Match, Career
- Edberg's ordeal: «There's no more respect»
- Edberg to Retire With Style and in Style
- Edberg, one more year and then good-bye
- Edberg supports tobacco sponsorship in sport