by Mauro Cappiello
Our website celebrates its 13th anniversary, the first under the Edberg-Federer partnership, after a year of huge growth from all the points of view. I was just having a quick look at last year's post this morning: just after Wimbledon, we were talking of a Facebook page that had gone past 16,000 members, while the Youtube and Twitter accounts had gone past 500 fans. All these numbers have more that doubled in just one year, as our community has enlarged welcoming a slice of Roger Federer fans.
Of course the partnership partly changed the nature of the website and our work behind it. We had always wondered what it would be like to run this project with an active Stefan Edberg. Over the last few months we've had the answer. Before we were used to looking for news, now we are flooded with news, pictures, videos from every part of the world, in every language.
It's very hard to keep up with it, especially when the big tournaments are under way, and this forced us to reduce our work on the vintage part of the website, which I'm sure is something that the old fans have not liked. But, after all, they will understand that this "Federer experience" is something Stefan will always be remembered for and, as long as it lasts, we'd better enjoy it fully.
Afterwards, we'll have more time again to keep working on old clippings... at least as long as Stefan doesn't get involved in a new partnership!
A look back at the last Wimbledon final
And enjoying we are... It's amazing to regularly see Stefan at the pro tournaments. I bet that all of you will have the same feeling of going back in time, whenever he appears on the tv, on the stands of a Major event. We can root again for him and his player, just as we did in the 80's and 90's...
It would have been a great present for our project if we could have celebrated this 13th anniversary with a new Wimbledon trophy for Stefan, this time as coach. Unfortunately, that was not meant to be. Federer's final with Djokovic was stellar, one of the best I've ever seen at the Championships and not only, but in the end, in spite of an incredible comeback by Roger in the fourth set, the Serb came out on top.
Becker had his revenge and easily had his way in front of the tv cameras, emphasizing the "great mental performance by Novak" (the world number one's mental aspect was the one he had been called to improve). The media, on the other hand, spoke of Boris Becker as the winner of the challenge in the challenge, since he defeated Edberg in their first meeting as coaches and levelled up their Wimbledon head-to-head.
All this is only partly true. Becker may have won the match and may have had his pictures with his hands on a Wimbledon trophy again, 25 years after his last one as a player. But his impact as coach on Djokovic, if any, has been limited. Until the last Wimbledon final, the Serb looked more uncomfortable when the man from Leimen was looking at him from the stands. He looked lost at times, whenever he tried to apply a more offensive strategy, as Becker has surely advised him to do, especially on grass.
Djokovic hasn't won because he was mentally tougher, but because he knew right from the start that keeping his constant level, he would end the match as the new Wimbledon champion, once the final would go the distance.
That's exactly what happened. The match will be remembered for the last five games of the fourth set, when a proud Federer refused to be beaten and managed to take it to a decider against all odds, recovering a break and saving a match point. But in today's tennis, half an hour of brilliance doesn't equal four hours of consistency.
Coach reputation increasing
So, even if there's clear evidence that Stefan Edberg has done a good job with Federer, since the Swiss is finding benefits from shortening the rallies in terms of results (just what Stefan has been focusing on), even if Roger's ranking has improved from number 8 of January to the current number three, once again it was not enough.
But we are glad that Edberg is gaining more and more respect in his new role. Of all the opinions that we collected on the web from experts and former players about his impact on Federer, the only one who looked skeptical was Chris Evert's.
Asked about his experience in the field, at the dawn of his agreement with Federer, Stefan had replied: "I coached my son." Everybody thought it was a joke, maybe it was not, since Christopher, who as far as we know isn't planning to become a professional tennis player in the future, has just won a junior tournament in Portugal, while earlier he had qualified for an important junior event in Sweden.
Moments to remember
Talking about Stefan's children, it just comes natural to recall as one of the very special events of last year the moment we knew that Emilie regularly reads our page and appreciates our posts since we talked on Facebook about her essay on the Södra Climate Tennis Arena. Who knows if she ever talks about it to her dad...
Also glad to know that the great Henri Leconte likes our contents, as he often tweets pictures with Stefan to us like the one below, helping us gain more and more followers (thank you, Henri!).
We are a little sad, instead, about the fact that Stefan is playing less on the Senior Tour than he did in recent years, as he is dedicating the majority of his tennis time to coaching Federer.
As long as he is in the media spotlight, there are more chances of meeting him at tournaments (and you're invited to send us your pictures), but at the same time approaching him is also more difficult, since there's always a huge crowd around Roger Federer.
An incredible forehand passing shot from Jeremy Chardy denied me a second meeting with Stefan in Rome (and this is not a moment to save from recent months...), when I already had a ticket for the day of the third round. But I still have hope that I can shake his hand again and talk to him about our website, just like in Halle two years ago!
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