from The Guardian
by David Irvine
Some will remember the 1983 State Express Classic at Bournemouth only for its excessive rain. Others may think of it as offering them their first glimpse of Stefan Edberg. Yesterday, this 17-year-old from Vesperic (ann. Vastervik), south of Stockholm, carried his remarkable run from qualifying to the semifinals of the £85,000 tournament at the West Hanis club.
Edberg, who had never won a match in the main draw of a Grand Prix event until arriving on Britain's South Coast, scored a victory even he had difficulty believing when he overcame Balazs Taroczy, the fifth seed, 5-7, 7-6, 6-3 in the evening gloom.
It was a match few thought he could retrieve when he lost his serve and the first set immediately after returning to the court after an agonizing 2½ hour break for rain. Yet from that moment on he rarely faltered and it was Taroczy, one of Europe's most talented claycourt specialists, who cracked after being foot-faulted in the second set tiebreak.
Despite the long interruption, the cold and the tacky conditions underfoot, the two staged a match which rewarded the many spectators who had hung on in the hope that the day's programme would be completed. Edberg played with remarkable maturity, varying his tactics to great effect and stepping up the pace of his game when he sensed that Taroczy was going.
"I felt I could win when I broke for 3-2 in the final set," he said. Earlier it was the Hungarian who had looked the stronger in the forecourt but, as the match approached its climax, it was Edberg who scored the crucial points with punishing volleys behind confidently forced approached shots.
It is almost inevitable that Edberg will be compared by some to Bjorn Borg. In fact, he offers a complete antithesis of approach. "Borg has not been an influence in my tennis. When I first began at seven, I had never heard of him. I played because my mother wanted me to." Yet, both Borg and Edberg had the same coach in their formative years, Percy Rosberg.
Today Edberg will face the top seed, Jose Higueras of Spain, who finally defeated the 36-year-old Jaime Fillol of Chile 4-6, 6-4, 10-8, shortly after 8 pm. Fillol served for the match at 5-4 but was unable to take his chance. Higueras, ranked No 8 in the world presents Edberg with a monumental task.
Edberg's success this week could alter the course of his career. He had been expecting to concentrate on junior events this year. He was the top 16-year-old in 1982 - but his computer ranking is now falling like a stone and direct entry to big tournaments should soon be his. "I don't want to play so much with juniors," he said.
His success, which has so far earned him £4,300 again highlighted the strength of the Swedish game. There are now seven players aged between 18 and 22 in the world's top 100, and 10 ranked higher than Britain's second best.
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