from Matchball (issue of January 12th, 1995)
by Enrico Schiavina
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
Clipping dedicated to STE...fans donor Linda Donaldson with a huge thank you from all the community!
Stefan opens his '95 season winning the Qatar Open again. Now he is the big old man of men's tennis.
Doha. The word sheik, "shaikh 'in Arabic, means "old" in the sense of experienced, wise, illuminated. It's therefore a title of honor, that is up to a few elderly particularly respected members of a social group, and that, at the end of this third Qatar Open, can be also fairly assigned to Stefan Edberg. The Swede, who celebrates his 29th birthday on January 19th, is now one of the older players on the Tour, and, after Lendl's withdrawal, also the most successful. He has been at the top for the last ten years but perfectly stands the test of time, and has started his 1995 season in the most authoritative way: winning.
Always cold and not prone to worldly events, Edberg has politely declined almost all the luxurious distractions that this tournament offers, no camel trip and no Arabic dress, but still rewarded the organizers in his own way, on court.
In three years of Qatar Open Stefan reached a semi-final in '93 (beaten by a huge Becker), won last year and did it again this year. Then, to explain the meaning of the word professionalism, also won the doubles.
In Doha Edberg, won his 41st tournament title. He looked again like the steamroller he once was, that doesn't leave his opponents the time to understand what they have been passed over. Only one lapse and only one set lost, in the second round against the Romanian Voinea, who also led 3-l in the second, but then badly suffered the authority of the number 1 seed. In the quarter-finals, in 44 minutes, he dismounted Alami's and his many fans' hopes, in the semifinal he didn't let himself get scared by Leconte's bursts of flame, in the final he controlled the dangerousness of his great friend Larsson.
Taken the trophy (a precious crystal vase), the check of the first prize ($84,000 for his win in singles and $22,500 for the one in doubles, plus a substantial benefit) and the compliments from the Emir in person the day after, during an official ceremony at his residence, Edberg left towards Melbourne more convinced than ever to still be competitive.
"I want to win another Grand Slam title," he said more than once in Doha, and if he plays this well nobody can say he won't actually do it.
Larsson, the new man
It was a family affair in the final, and not just because it was played between two Swedes. Larsson and Edberg are very good friends, both come from the beautiful adventure of the Davis Cup title at the end of '94, and here they have practiced together all week and together have played and won the doubles event.
Magnus is going through a period of exceptional form: between the end of '94 and early '95 he won 24 of the 28 matches he has played, he hit the big target with the Grand Slam Cup, but he doesn't look like a guy who lays down.
Improved his serve, full of confidence, he overwhelmed Stich in the semifinals and fought for a set against Edberg in the final. "My goal for '95 is to further improve my ranking," says Larsson, number 17 after Doha. "I do not consider myself a superstar like Stefan, I will never be another Borg or Wilander. But if you want to write I represent the new generation of Swedish continuity at the top, go ahead..."
Leconte, the old man
From bottles of champagne popping at the Sheraton during the New Year's celebration of tennis players, the bubbles of Henri Leconte came out. The Musketeer so loved by the French had disappeared for six months, had won his last official match in mid-June, in Halle, against Volkov. Against the same player Henri played a wonderful first-round, certainly the best match of the tournament, and from there he gained confidence to reach the semifmal, being the tournament star until Saturday: his matches were the more followed, his were the headlines on the local newspapers, his was the entire audience in Doha.
Against Volkov, he lost the first set and trailed 5-2 in the second, he looked "dead and buried". Instead he suddenly came back into play, moved up 5-5, went to the tie-break; here he had to face a match point (on 6-5 for Volkov) but fired a full-swing forehand for 6-6, then closed 8-6 at the net.
In the third set he wasted six match points before closing: 4 on 5-3, two more on 5-4. Volkov got back to 5-5 with a double fault from Leconte, but the Frenchman broke back immediately and closed at the seventh opportunity, in 2 hours and 35 minutes.
It was the best piece played by the French in his week in Qatar, but also the challenge against Javier Sanchez in the quarter and the second set against Edberg (in which he was up 5-2) were enjoyable.
His left arm is always able of amazing feats, with age he has improved tactically and, when his body is in place as this time, anything can happen. Sure, one can't rely on Leconte, after this exploit he is maybe able to disappear for other six months; but to such a character, one who knows how to play and how to entertain the audience, anything can be forgiven.
Because for certain numbers, now, he and a few others are the only ones left. Whether it's a stop-volley or a trip on a camel, a wring of an eye to the camera or a speech during an official dinner to thank the organizers for their generous Arabic hospitality on behalf of all the players. The moral is simple: for this poor tennis, a dozen Lecontes would be needed.
- Edberg (almost) rules out continuing his coaching career
- Playsight workshop at Södra Climate Arena
- Arvidsson seeks motivations at Edberg's Academy
- No Kings of Tennis for Edberg
- Monitoring Confirms Efficiency Of Edberg’s Arena
- 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
- The day of Edberg and Chang
- «One more Major before I quit»
- A matter of family
- Edberg Regains Form, Beats Stoltenberg
- Edberg: 71 minutes, $87,500
- Down the Coast