An article from: The New York Times
by Robin Finn
The second-best tennis player in the world had expected to spend his day relaxing on the golf course, but there he was, punching in on Monday morning with the rest of the working stiffs in order to complete his weeklong stint here at the rain-ravaged Volvo International.
Stefan Edberg, the defending United States Open champion, had only one title to his name in 1992, but he changed that today by defeating 16th-ranked MaliVai Washington, 7-6 (7-4), 6-1, in a final in which the first set was hotly contested but the second was a runaway for the determined Swede.
Edberg, who escalated his play from passable to near-perfect after reversing a 3-0 tie-breaker deficit, claimed his 35th career title and, more important, gave himself a cushion of pre-Open confidence he admitted he sorely needed.
"It's necessary for me to win at least once in a while," said Edberg, who hadn't enjoyed that experience in a final since May and knew he wouldn't be in proper form to start defending his Open title next week without it. "I've proved this week that I can play pretty good tennis. I've sort of got the momentum going, and that's what I needed, because I really haven't played that well in the last couple of months. At least I know my game is back in shape." 'Solid Tennis' Not Enough
Washington, a 23-year-old American currently playing the best tennis of his career and encouraged by victories here against John McEnroe and second-seeded Goran Ivanisevic, thought his game was in shape to do some damage to Edberg.
"I played solid tennis, good enough to beat a lot of people, but to beat a guy ranked second in the world, you're going to have to go up a level," said Washington, who held only two break points against Edberg but allotted him seven. "I couldn't close it out in the tie breaker, and after that he kind of ran through the second set."
Right from the opening game of the match, the 26-year-old Edberg seemed to serve notice to Washington, who was appearing in his sixth final of the year, that his impressive 1992 run in this tournament -- where last year he beat Jimmy Connors and in 1990 he upset Ivan Lendl -- was over.
"You want to get into a groove, but unfortunately I got broken in the first game," said Washington, who waited until the sixth game before returning the favor and putting the set back on serve. Crucial Error in Tie Breaker
But just as Washington was poised to take a 4-0 lead in the tie breaker, he committed a backhand error that put a dent in his confidence and put Edberg back on the scoreboard.
"He made that one easy mistake and then he played a shaky tie breaker, had the opportunity to nail me and he didn't take the chances," said Edberg, whose own last mistake of the tie breaker was a bungled overhead that gave Washington a 4-2 lead. After that embarrassing miss, Edberg came up with a string of brilliant volleys and never allowed Washington another point in the set.
Edberg quickly compounded Washington's problems by breaking his serve and assuming a 2-0 lead in the second set. With a running crosscourt forehand fired with a flourish from the corner, Edberg put Washington at a 0-30 deficit, and with a cleverly masked forehand pass, he set himself up with a break point to which Washington succumbed by dumping a forehand volley into the net.
Pressured by Edberg's service returns, which grew bolder as the match unfolded, Washington began to overreach himself. "I didn't have as many aces as I wanted," said Washington, who was outclassed, 10-3, in that department by his opponent, "but some of that may have had to do with Stefan. He made me try and generate a little extra." Fine Serving by Edberg
In contrast, Edberg's serve was a source of pride to its rather relieved owner, who admitted he hadn't been able to rely on it with this degree of impunity for several months.
"I'm comfortable now that I'm serving well. That's really the key to my game, and when I put that together with my volley, then everything else becomes easy," said Edberg, who toned up both aspects of his game during his run to the semifinals with doubles partner John McEnroe.
Edberg said that Monday finals, of which he has contested and won four, have always been "good omens" for him. But so are his customary Monday golf outings. And so, upon accepting his crystal trophy, Edberg was airlifted across Long Island Sound by helicopter to play a belated nine holes at the charity golf tournament he is host for each year before his appearance at the Hamlet Cup in Commack.
"To leave a tournament without having lost a match, that's what keeps me going," he said. "That and a little golf."
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