from Tennis Magazine (issue of May 1994)
by Yannick Cochennec
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
Without hoping for anyone's failure, how many tennis lovers wouldn't wish to see Stefan Edberg crowned in France on clay? Very few indeed, considered what the Swedish champion contributed to the game: class, sportsmanship and beauty in a sport where only genius can make people forget - as he so often does - of the huge amount of effort it requires.
At 28, Edberg has only got a few years left in front of him to snatch the only major title missing - the Roland Garros. And Edberg knows it better than anyone, as last year he decided to put everything on his side and begin his great preparation scheduling - and he is the only one to have done it among the world's top ten - both Nice and Monte Carlo.
So here he is, somehow, on these enchanting shores, just before the Coast. The ones of his supreme challenge, that, from the blu Mediterranean Sea to the Porte d'Auteuil in Paris, leads him (like Andre Agassi for other reasons) to his great moment of truth. Edberg and clay is still, despite some beautiful satisfactions, the story of an impossible marriage at the top, yet a consecration he was so close to on a Sunday in 1989.
In this case, it's also the opportunity to greet our landing on the Claycourt Planet, presenting two of its oldest and most prestigious flagships: the LTC Nice and Monte Carlo Country Club, with some superbe images that already invite us to dream. With Edberg. And with many others...
Fourteen weeks have already gone by, crowning champions in men's and women's tennis. From the Australian sun to the electric lights of European and American indoor halls, to the hard courts of California and Florida, the tennis season has already delivered its first verdicts, but what traces did they leave in the memory of French audience? A strong one probably among the true enthusiasts, but likely a pale one among casual fans.
Because in France - and it has always been like this -, the "tennis year" really begins when the spring opens the Mediterranean season on clay. "Forgotten" who won at Indian Wells or who triumphed in Chicago, finished the winter, live spring!
In the mind, there's room for nothing but the French Open, which starts in just over a month. And all (re) starts well in Nice and Monte Carlo.
Scheduled behind the Estoril and Barcelona events, both the Mediterranean dates still mark the real start of the race that will take the champions to the start of Paris. In these almost centennial events, where the biggest stars of the game shone bright, tennis is obviously essential, but the landscape offered to the audience is also part of the fun on this other fortnight on clay, when the sun - and unfortunately it's not always the case - wants to be in the party.
Placed between mountains and sea, the Monte-Carlo Country Club remains a unique scenario, probably the best in the world for playing tennis.
The aesthetic rivalry is very well supported by the charming Parc Imperial in Nice, which is still so steeped in the presence of "the diva", Suzanne Lenglen, who made the heyday in the 20s, but this remains largely at the level of the past...
Owned by Dominique Bedel and Pascal Portes since 1988, the Philips Open is trying to compete with its big neighbor Monaco in recent years. In 1993, it almost equalled it with the arrival of five of the world's top ten on the courts of Parc Imperial. This year the tournament (11-17 April) will again present a beautiful field with the name of Jim Courier topping the singles draw.
Courier's presence in Nice is a real attraction, since the two time French Open champion has never played at the Promenade des Anglais and since he has not scheduled the small trip to the Principality the following week - which has been seen as a sacrilege in Monaco! We must go back to 1954 to find an American - Tony Vincent - on the courts of Nice: a beautiful challenge ahead for Jim.
At his side, Stefan Edberg (which we detail below with a feature about his great fights on the least suitable surface to his game) will be the second favorite. But as we have seen, it is not recommended to be part of the lot of candidates to the title in Nice, where the winners were rather revolutionary in recent years.
In 1993 the surprising success of Marc Goellner (not in Nice this time) coming out from the qualifying. Other likely contenders to victory - Pioline was set to come but withdrew due to a chest injury - include Marc Rosset, Wayne Ferreira (wild card), Arnaud Boetsch, Andrei Chesnokov, Jaime Yzaga and Yevgeny Kafelnikov.
Forty years of waiting in Nice, thirty-eight in Monte Carlo where the American tennis is desperately missing from the charts since 1956 (Stewart), except for the special case of Jimmy Connors, whose final against Guillermo Vilas in 1981 had to be canceled due to rain.
A champion might fill that void from April 18 at the Monte Carlo Country Club: Andre Agassi, the only US representative. For his only participation in the event in 1991, Agassi was not particularly brilliant, falling against Horst Skoff. A revenge after his return to the competition? Perhaps, though as always in the Principality, the real claycourt specialists remain the favorite, the first of them being Sergi Bruguera, the defending champion who became the first player since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to complete the Monte Carlo-Roland Garros double, and Thomas Muster, who won in 1992.
Michael Stich, Stefan Edberg, Goran Ivanisevic, Andrei Medvedev, Magnus Gustafsson, Petr Korda and Boris Becker, always in search of a title on clay, will also be in the running, all with some chances.
For Cedric Pioline,the moment was important, because he had to defend a big amount of points since he was a finalist last year. Unfortunately for him, his sprain is compromising his participation. It's a shame, and his ranking will necessarily suffer.
In the likely absence (but perhaps with Guy Forget, who could make his big comeback), Arnaud Boetsch and Henri Leconte will try to do as well as Pierre Dannon, the last French to have triumphed at MCCC in 1963. A great challenge, but what to say if Stefan Edberg wins...
- Federer: "I will analyse with Edberg"
- Stefan Edberg back to Monte Carlo
- Force 5 Sweden!
- ATP Finals 1994 - Stefan Edberg vs Pete Sampras (highlights)
- A matter of family
- The day of Edberg and Chang
- Stefan the Sheikh
- «One more Major before I quit»
- Edberg Regains Form, Beats Stoltenberg
- Edberg: 71 minutes, $87,500
- Edberg, the pain and the dream
- Effusive Edberg serves up warning: Near-perfect Swede gains sweet revenge
- Little and big heroes
- Edberg wins in Qatar and dreams Australia
- Paris, oh dear one