traslated by Markus Zacharski
Then: Stefan Edberg is playing the Stockholm Open finals against Boris Becker in front of 14,000 spectators in Globen. Now: eleven years later, Edberg has given up tennis long time ago and Stockholm Open has given up Globen. And a comeback isn't of current interest, neither for Edberg nor for Stockholm Open. "The tournament is lying on a realistic level", the former tennis star says.
Much has been changed since the meetings between Becker and Edberg in front of 14,000 spectators in Globen, not only for Stockholm Open but also for the whole tennis world. As the economic climate was getting grimmer and grimmer this has influenced tennis world as well. The tournament in Stuttgart had to move to Madrid because of economic problems. Its analogy in Hamburg was rescued thanks to Boris Becker arranging a sponsor contract. Six out of the nine so-called Masters tournaments are lacking a main sponsor in the present-day-situation.
Predicted the downfall
One year ago you predicted in a TT interview that it could be a matter of time before we see the economic bubble burst within sports. Is it what is now happening?
"It's not completely impossible even if I hope, of course, that it isn't so. For the tennis it has been a little tougher climate for a long time. There is absolutely no crisis for the Grand Slam tournaments, they are generating much money, but for the remaining tournaments it can be tough to be run with profit."
Stockholm Open you are working with had to reduce the prize pot by 1.7 million Swedish crowns (about 180,000 EUR)?
"Yes, this is in line with what other tournaments have done, we see that as a step to be able to continue."
Does this affect the chances to tempt players to the tournament?
"Yes as well as no. Of course, it is more attractive with more money but in general there are several tournaments which had to do the same. And it is not always what rules, in the smaller tournaments it's maybe the starting money which is more interesting than the total prize money for big players."
When you played Stockholm Open it had a higher status and was one out of the so-called super-9-tournaments. Shall the tournament try to reach this status again or is it more realistic to stay at the level one has today?
"The tournament in Globen had loss one or two years and then one lowered to the present level. This is the level one will stay at. One shouldn't put on a dress which is too big, so to speak. As Stockholm Open hasn't the status as a Masters series you cannot demand at the same time that you can see the very best players every year."
You're competing with tournaments in Basel and St. Petersburg that are held the same week. Would it better it the tournament was played during a different week?
Concerning the time it is situated right. On the other hand there is one tournament for much during that week, particularly concerning Basel and Stockholm which have been there since a long time. I think it's a pure catastrophe that they are held at the same time. This shouldn't happen and I hope there will be a modification. I think one should protect the tournaments that have been existing for a longer time."
What do you think about the economic future of tennis?
"I think that tennis is in a good phase, it exploded during the 80s and 90s, then retrogression began earlier than in other sports, when it recovers well I believe that tennis will be in a better phase."
Do you have suggestions about how the economic cake should be divided within the world of tennis?
"If you see such a tournament like Wimbledon generating the 30-35 millions pounds which are going to the English tennis association, these are enormous sums. "Calle" Hageskog had an idea that if, for instance, a Swede wins Wimbledon part of the profit should go to the Swedish tennis association, but that is difficult.
FACTS: STEFAN EDBERG
Born: January 19th, 1966
Family: Wife Annette and children Emilie and Christopher
Spare time interests: Family, sport and stock market
Favourite sport memory: "Anders Gärderud in the summer games in Montreal. I was ten and saw it on TV."
Favourite destination: Dubai
Of current interest: Is sitting in the Stockholm Open competition committee which is fighting in a new economic climate
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