from Grand Chelem
by Benjamin Rassat and Laurent Trupiano
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
There are moments of happiness for a magazine, a meeting with Stefan Edberg took us to the seventh heaven of the interview. Absolute class, a rare and precious word, the greatest Swedish serve & volleyer explained the attacking tennis in a garden of the Lagardère Trophy.
Stefan Edberg and Roger Federer during theirpractice session at the 2010 Stockholm Open
Stefan, we do not see you as much as Björn and Mats. Mats comments tennis every week. What do you think of the men's tour?
About today’s tennis, my opinion is that Nadal and Federer are dominating in a way we have never seen in the past. They have almost won all the Grand Slam events they have played in recent years and they win almost every tournament they take part in. They are almost always in the final. I think these two are incredible, outstanding players for tennis.
Do you think there is no comparison with your time?
There is no comparison. When I played, there were plenty of players capable of winning a Grand Slam: Courier, Sampras, Agassi, McEnroe, Lendl, all big names who could win titles. Now look, Nadal and Federer share almost everything. Since the 70s, I do not remember seeing it. So my thinking is that these two guys are really good and they are a little better than the others.
You have a big French fan called Guy Forget. Two years ago, we asked what Federer should do to beat Rafa. He replied, "If Stefan Edberg was still playing he would beat Nadal 7 times out of 10" because you would make him a first serve and volley and then a second serve and volley, and that throughout the entire match. Do you think the same?
Clearly to beat Nadal, he should not play from the baseline. Because at this game he is the best. To beat him you have to attack, play a different game. I'm really surprised that Roger Federer does not play like that. At Wimbledon, for example, he came to the net once in ten. If I were his coach, I would have asked him to come to the net at least 7 times out of 10 against Nadal, just to break his rhythm. I think you do not have many players who play like I did or as McEnroe or Becker did in attacking first and second. It's a shame because it is very difficult to play against someone who always breaks your rhythm and it's very frustrating. But at the same time it is a very difficult game to play.
But do you think it is still possible to play like this, with the current grass, rackets and strings?
It’s got to be more difficult. I know they made balls slower, heavier. They cut the grass a little higher, so slower. It is therefore more difficult. It is a style of game that needs speed.
It happens to see Roger go to the net against Nadal and having to volley without control. Sometimes you can read the disappointment on his face as if he had missed something...
But now he can’t exclusively play serve and volley. He needs to play a little serve and volley, do it game after game with regularity. Because playing quite a serve and volley game is currently too difficult, even impossible. I think he should adopt a more attacking game strategy because now everybody knows how he plays and everyone wants to beat him. If he goes 5 times out of 10 to the net, it will destabilize his opponent. The opponent will not know what to expect from his serve. "Is he going to come to the net or not?". Roger is capable of it and I think that's a key for him.
Which current player impresses you?
I love Roger’s style. He plays tennis I would have liked to play. If I was playing tennis now I would not go to the net all the time. I would stay over the baseline. But at the same time it is very exciting to see Rafa play. He is a tiger and it's really interesting to see. All great players have something more.
Would you be interested in playing just a few points against Nadal? McEnroe did for 10 minutes at Wimbledon.
Of course. Anyway it's always good to play against the best in the world. It would be a good challenge. I could feel his ball striking and I am convinced that at the first touch of the ball, I would say "Wouahou!". But one must get used to his shots little by little.
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