from ATP Champions Tour.com
by Catherine Whitaker
Stefan Edberg kicked off the defence of his Kings of Tennis crown in impressive fashion with a 6-4, 6-2 defeat of Henri Leconte at Stockholm’s Waterfront Congress Centre on Tuesday.
Edberg arrived in Stockholm straight from Indian Wells, where he was working in his new role as coach to 17-time Grand Slam Champion Roger Federer. And despite a touch of jet lag, the Swede thinks his time spent working with Federer will help him mount a successful title defence this week.
"Being on the main tour again with Roger definitely helps to get the competitive juices flowing,"’ he said. "I’ve been watching lots of matches and being around Roger and the tour has been quite inspiring. It helps that I’m hitting with Roger, that definitely keeps me sharp and being around the competition again is really motivating."
Edberg and Federer’s is one of many new ‘Super Coach’ partnerships between ATP World Tour and ATP Champions Tour players, and it’s one that the Swede certainly sees lasting for the long term.
"Working with Roger is going really well," he said. "There’s no pressure from my side; I’ll be there as long as he wants me to be."
Later in the week, Edberg will take on countryman Mats Wilander for the first time in 19 years in order to secure a place in a second consecutive Kings of Tennis final. The pair met a total of 20 times on the ATP World Tour, with the older Swede, Wilander, leading the head-to-head 11-9.
"I have been looking forward to defending my title here but I have to beat Mats before I’m in the final," said Edberg. "Our matches always used to be so tough, so I’m not taking anything for granted. I feel in good shape though and I love playing on this court. Hopefully there will be an amazing crowd for that match against Mats, so I hope it will be special."
The Swedes had further success on day one when Thomas Enqvist defeated former World No. 1 Marcelo Rios 6-3, 6-3 to take the lead in Group Two.
Rios was playing his first ATP Champions Tour match since 2011, having taken two years away from the sport following major back surgery. Despite mounting a valiant challenge, the Chilean was overpowered by the crisp groundstrokes of Enqvist, for whom a win against Carlos Moya on Wednesday will mean a guaranteed place in Friday’s final.
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