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an article from WashingtonPost.com
by David Nakamura
When it was over yesterday, after Sweden's Stefan Edberg wilted Australia's Jason Stoltenberg in the summer heat, after Edberg cruised though a week at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic without losing a set, after he hoisted the championship trophy and collected the $87,500 winner's check, Edberg told the crowd of 7,204 at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center:"I don't know why I haven't been here before in my 30 years of playing. It's a great place to play tennis".
Edberg is only 28, but forgive him for rounding up to 30 -- perhaps it just seemed that long to him after seeing what kind of success he could have here. Despite a sluggish year, Edberg again has his serve-and-volley game tuned up, as he proved yesterday by taking apart Stoltenberg, 6-4, 6-2, in 71 minutes.
Edberg's third tournament victory of the year came at an especially important time. The world's seventh-ranked player, Edberg has struggled recently, having lost in the first round of the French Open and second round of Wimbledon.
He normally takes a vacation after Wimbledon, but this year took it during Wimbledon -- going to England's beaches with his wife and daughter after the early loss -- then decided to come to Washington to work on his game.
"This week has helped me tremendously,"said Edberg."I have struggled since April, but I came in here with a good chance to play and win. My confidence is back because I'm playing good tennis, and that makes it more fun to go out and practice."
Edberg was the No. 2 seed and, had the original seeds held up, would have faced top-ranked Pete Sampras in the final. But Sampras withdrew last week before his first match citing tendinitis in his left ankle.
That left one side of the draw open and Stoltenberg, the tournament's 14th seed who is ranked 47th in the world, seized the opportunity with a third-round upset of fourth seed Marc Rosset.
But Stoltenberg, who plays a baseline game with occasional approaches to the net, was no match for Edberg's attacking style. It didn't help that Stoltenberg struggled on his serve, racking up five double faults and getting only 56 percent of his first serves in play. Edberg, by comparison, had two double faults and was successful on 69 percent of his first serves.
"I didn't serve well today and you have to do that against Stefan,"said Stoltenberg, who picked up $46,000 as the runner-up.
"He knew I was going to attack the net on his second serves,"Edberg said."And that put pressure on him."
Edberg broke Stoltenberg in the second game of the match, but Stoltenberg got back on serve in the fifth game. First, Edberg hit a backhand volley wide. Then he double-faulted and hit another backhand volley wide to trail 0-40. After that second volley was wide, Edberg, who thought it had nicked the line, looked at the chair umpire in disgust.
He took the next two points, but Stoltenberg then slammed a forehand past Edberg as he approached the net to take the game and cut Edberg's lead to 3-2.
But Edberg broke right back. Game 6 was tied at 30 when Edberg hit a backhand winner. On the next point, Stoltenberg tried to rush the net but ended up hitting a forehand volley into it to give Edberg a 4-2 lead.
That Stoltenberg attacked at the net on occasion was generally considered a wise move. Aaron Krickstein tried to beat Edberg from the baseline in the quarterfinals to no avail, 6-4, 6-1. In Saturday's semifinals, Byron Black, usually a baseliner, mixed up his game and had more success than Krickstein, but fell 6-4, 7-5.
But Edberg is the master of serve-and-volley tennis, and explained yesterday that his style"has a lot to do with reflexes. I played the same game all week and kept getting better and better. I felt quicker and quicker. I moved well at the net and covered all the angles."
Edberg held for 5-2, but Stoltenberg wasn't through. After holding serve for 5-3, he broke again to get back on serve.
After the players reached deuce, Stoltenberg gained the advantage when he returned serve with a sharp crosscourt forehand that Edberg couldn't reach. Edberg then netted a backhand volley and Stoltenberg had cut the lead to 5-4.
But, again, Edberg answered the break with one of his own, and this time it gave him the set. A crosscourt backhand made it 0-15. Then Stoltenberg tried a forehand drop shot, but Edberg ran it down and hit a backhand winner. After Stoltenberg made it 15-30 with a backhand volley, Edberg hit a forehand winner for 15-40. Finally, off a Stoltenberg second serve, Edberg hit a forehand down the line that Stoltenberg could barely get a racket on. The ball went wide and Edberg had taken the first set, 6-4.
In the second set, Edberg had few problems, breaking Stoltenberg in Games 2 and 8. On match point, Stoltenberg double faulted. Edberg shook Stoltenberg's hand and raised a fist to the cheering crowd.
Stoltenberg, though, wasn't too upset about his loss."I beat a lot of good players this week,"said Stoltenberg, who, in addition to beating Rosset, downed David Wheaton, Brett Steven, Patrick McEnroe and qualifier Paul Kilderry.
As for Edberg, he said he will return to his London home for two weeks to concentrate on practicing for the U.S. Open.
"If I play the way I played this week, I have a good chance to do well at the Open,"he said."With the tennis I'm playing right now, I'd be very happy going into the Open.
"Perhaps I'm not at the very top of my game, but I'm close."
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