by Torbjörn Berlstedt
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
JÖNKÖPING - As the RC Open is currently underway at the Racquet Centre, we talked to former world number one Stefan Edberg about the crazy shape of the Swedish tennis curve. - We got lost in development, he analyzes.
- It is important that we go to the bottom of things and find a way forward again, - says the man from Småland during an interview on the spot in the buzz around the mini tennis tournament.
It is as if time has stood still when you meet Edberg. Or as if the clock had stopped. Honestly, the 50-year-old sports star is not more colorful now than he was off the tennis court at the time.
But no one can take away from him the world number one he has been, as well as the aura of one of the last classic serve and volley specialists.
- Wimbledon titles are the top glory moment, but I managed to become one of the best players in the world, says Edberg.
He is on the spot as a special guest of a gathering of Swedish juniors, which will end with a "cheer up speech" before the kids would come in to play some tennis on the mobile center court.
- A great opportunity to gather our best juniors, socialize and show them Elias Ymer and how the world tennis is played, says Edberg.
Sweden's number one Ymer (n. 152 in the world ranking) is at the RC Open and goes into the action on Wednesday. A very promising young player by today's standards, but at a meeting with Edberg, it is inevitable to compare the country's tennis status with the incredibly successful '80s, when most of the time we had six top players at the same time.
- Our generation had Bjorn Borg to look up to, says Edberg, lots of tennis halls were built, we had a wide range of talented leaders and also a bunch of elite players who trained a lot and in the right way, and made a strong group through thick and thin.
Then around the turn of the decade everything went down, why?
- It was an unusual dominance of a small nation that could not last forever, - says Edberg, - and as the Eastern bloc came up the West lost focus. It is of course difficult to put your finger against what went wrong in Sweden, but much of what I just mentioned disappeared, the training method became worse.
So does it still look dark?
- No, we have reached the bottom, now I see signs that the Swedes are beginning to make things in the right way again, Ymer still has got more to learn, but Johanna Larsson, I'm pretty sure she will reach the top. Most importantly, we must continue to train leaders. With Magnus Larsson and Carl-Axel Hageskog I have started a tennis university in Växjö, a project that we strongly believe in.
What does tennis in general look like?
- I have long called for more variety in the game style, but I think I see an end to the hard-hitting game from the baseline, more people are coming to the net today.
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