from Tennis Magazine (issue of May 1994)
by Yannick Cochennec
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
Among the top players, only Stefan Edberg will compete both in Nice and Monte Carlo. "I'll give myself one or two more years," he had said in 1993. A year or two for what? To win the Roland Garros, of course, the only Grand Slam title missing from his crown.
At 28, the two-time Wimbledon champion will indeed burn one of his last cartridges on clay, even if Andres Gomez's success in Paris, at 30, may allow him to look a little further.
But time is running out, especially on this surface, and he knows it. And to achieve what would be the ultimate accolade of his career, like last year Edberg has chosen to boost his preparation by playing a lot. Nice, Monte Carlo, Madrid, Hamburg and the World Cup of Nations in Düsseldorf were the steps of the tour where he had to stop.
Busy schedule, but it would bear fruit. In 1993, the world n. 3 had completed a good season on clay, two good semifinals in Nice (beaten by Goellner) and Monte Carlo (dominated by a stormy wind and Pioline), a quarter final at the Roland Garros where he had the misfortune to come across an Andrei Medvedev in state of grace, and a very, very good win in Madrid on Sergi Bruguera who would triumph five weeks later on the Center Court of Porte d'Auteuil.
Another outstanding performance was his French Open final against Michael Chang in 1989 where he had passed so close to victory, seeing it spinning in his face on multiple occasions.
The image of the 10 break points he has had that Sunday, on three different games in the fourth set, while leading two sets to one, will probably not be forgotten soon by the fans of the time. Chang and the extreme fatigue that seized Edberg at the start of the fifth set (despite a misleading break) would turn the wheel of fortune. How many times has he seen those break points scroll in his head, those crucial balls that often hit the lines as bullets?
Only a win could erase that from his memory... As he himself underlines, it's all a mental issue in this difficult quest. "On clay, I need to play a high-precision tennis to put pressure on my opponent while playing my own game." Double problem that is even more difficult to solve on the five set distance.
"At Roland Garros, I need to be on top of my fitness to combine all these elements," he acknowledges, too. A good draw, a dry court and a little luck would perhaps not be useless and it was never really the case in recent years. Let's remember only the end of the quarter final he played against Jim Courier in 1991, when line calls were rather unfavourable to him at crucial moment.
As Connors and McEnroe yesterday, as Sampras and Becker today, Edberg therefore only hopes for a triumph in Paris to have the privilege of touching perfection by winning all the Grand Slam titles in his career. Feet on the ground, he has the right to dream. In Nice and Monte Carlo, we will probably see a little better if the dream still has a chance to come true.
- Would you have liked Stefan dressed like this?
- Edberg: "Federer not helped by Lenglen Court"
- Federer has the best volley today. But Edberg...
- SVT Sports meets Federer and Edberg
- Federer eases through first round
- «One more Major before I quit»
- A matter of family
- Edberg Regains Form, Beats Stoltenberg
- Edberg: 71 minutes, $87,500
- Down the Coast
- 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
- Champion of style