from Göteborgs Posten
by Eric Hilmersson
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
He is our last world number one, but today he wants to "act without being seen" ... Nevertheless, two years ago he accepted the most prestigious job in the tennis world: to coach Roger Federer... "It was as if we had known each other all our lives," says Stefan Edberg of his first meeting with the greatest in tennis history.
Stefan Edberg with Magnus Gustafsson (photo Joel Marklund)
During his career, Stefan Edberg was known as a gentleman, a humble and correct perfectionist who left the big gestures behind and let the serve&volley game speak to the world tennis venues. An image that initially earned him the epithet of dull, but gradually won more and more respect, especially in London, which became his hometown as a 18-year-old and where he met Boris Becker in the Wimbledon final for three years in a row (1988-1990). He won two of them and the Londoners adopted that same shy Swede. In Sweden he won the Svenska Dagbladet Gold Medal in 1990 and inspired all the young players to to go to the net after their serve.
The 50-year-old who walks into the Ullevi Tennis Klubb in March 2016 is essentially the same Stefan Edberg who won 41 singles titles during the ‘80s and ‘90s: well groomed, polite and unwilling to be at the center - although he is undoubtedly the star of this evening.
"The location is very good. Definitely. Being back here at Ullevi is fun, I know I have been here during the Davis Cup to train. It was some years ago now, but it seems to be a club with good activities. Many youngsters on the courts," says Edberg looking around.
He is on hand to talk about his career and his experience to the currently 1,100 members of the prestigious tennis club. The event is organized by an asset management company Edberg founded twelve years ago. Now it has opened offices in Gothenburg and so came the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone: the company marketed and Ullevi TK got some long overdue attention to his club.
Many have gathered to listen to Edberg, but before the conference he has a little chat with Gothenburg Posten.
How closely do you follow Swedish tennis today?
"Yes, now I have been traveling for a few years, but I have a son who has been playing tennis, so I thoroughly enjoyed a little insight into the last six, seven years. However, at a distance, so to say. It is well recognized generally as tennis is still a great sport, there are many who play and there seems to be a genuine interest. And now it also appears that it has turned a bit and it starts to turn up some interesting new players. It has been so bad for a while now that it almost can only get better. So that way, I am optimistic", said Edberg.
Who are the most exciting talents today?
"As of today, surely the Ymer brothers are. But I hope someone will show up who is just as exciting, or even more".
He is not alone in hoping so. Since Robin Soderling had to stop his career, the big stars shine for their absence in Swedish tennis and today we are grateful if anyone even qualifies for the big tournaments. Meanwhile, the top tier of the world developed the game further, and when you see the "superhuman" players like Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer play at a level never seen before, one can not help wondering: will a Swedish player ever be able to get there?
"I would certainly hope that, but it might take some time. This generation has marked the last ten years, especially with Djokovic, Nadal and Federer, they've won over 40 Grand Slams together. It is a golden generation of tennis players who have taken tennis to a new level and have been completely dominant over ten years. It has never happened before, so it's a unique generation. But it also means that there will be changes when these guys quit. So there are some exciting times coming up and it feels like we have passed the bottom for Swedish tennis now.
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