Thanks Katie Leach at The Black Rock Masters press office
Edberg: Yes, definitely it’s nice to be back. I lived here for many years but it’s definitely great to come back here for a week and enjoy London and obviously to play here tonight. I’m really looking forward to that one. London is a great place, no question about it. It’s good to come here and there’s so many things you can do here and I brought the kids too so we’ve been pretty busy for a few days.
Question: So you don’t still live round the corner then?
Edberg: No, I went by there this morning just to have a look at the place but I moved back to Sweden in the year 2000. We felt that we’re both Swedish and we wanted our kids to grow up in Sweden where it’s a little bit more quiet. So in the year 2000 we decided it was time to move on. But you never know what will happen in the future.
Question: Do you still have that house in London?
Edberg: No, I don’t. I sold the place when I left here in the year 2000 and I’m actually enjoying staying in a hotel here which I don’t do very often nowadays. It’s actually quite a treat because most of the time I spend at home in Sweden. I live a pretty regular life these days so it’s actually really nice to come here and stay in a hotel. Your breakfast is all served for you so it’s no bad.
Question: Are you playing much?
Edberg: I’ve played regularly since I stopped. I play about once or twice a week normally back in Sweden. I combine it with a little bit of squash too so fitness-wise I’m doing ok.
Henman: He’s doing very well.
Question: Do you have a farm still?
Edberg: Yes I do. We bought an old farm in the ‘90s and that’s where we moved back to. We don’t have any animals or anything but we live pretty much out in the country. We’ve got cows next door so it’s a very different way of life to how it was here in London. I think it’s a nice stage of life now to have your kids grow up in the country. The schools are pretty good and it’s a good environment so we really like it.
Question: Have you got a court at home?
Edberg: No, definitely not no.
Question: So you have to go to the local tennis courts?
Edberg: Definitely yes. I said to myself if I want to play tennis then I want to play on a decent court and I know all the upkeep there is if you’re going to have your own court in your backyard. No, If I want to play tennis I’ll go to a tennis club. I’ve always felt that that is the right way to do it otherwise you spend all your time at home and that’s not good. You need to get out once in a while.
Question: Tim was saying how well you were hitting at Roehampton.
Edberg: Yeh that was yesterday, it’s another day today. I still play pretty well at times in practice but it’s a little different playing a match. I have to admit it’s a different thing to come in with a crowd and umpires. But if I hit the ball like I did yesterday then I’ll be ok.
Question: Do you miss tennis?
Edberg: Well, tennis has been such a big part of my life and I stopped pretty early at 30 years of age. Thinking back I could probably have played another 5 years physically if I wanted to. It’s been nice to get away from the tennis. There is a life after tennis afterall. But I’ve still kept in contact with tennis one way or another by doing some work with the Stockholm Open tournament. I also did a bit of work with Adidas and Wilson in the beginning but after a while you get into other things that interest you. At the moment I don’t watch a lot of tennis to be honest. I do once in a while but I'm still in contact with the sport by playing. For me it’s just enough to pack my bag and practice once or twice a week. I’ve really been away now for 10 years but I’m sure in the future I will get back slowly and come to watch at events and maybe meet up with the guys that I played in the past. I think that would be something that I would enjoy going forward. But it has been good to have a break away from the tennis because if you want to be at the top of the game then tennis is your life basically and everything involves tennis. Once you give up tennis other things come into your life.
Question: The prevailing conditions there are in modern tennis that Tim experienced, particularly towards the end of his career and at Wimbledon. Do you think that you would have been adversely affected by the general slow-down within the game because you play quite similarly?
Edberg: I probably would think so, yes. Because from what I hear and from what I see they really have slowed down the speed of the grass. But really what has been affected is the balls I think. They really have slowed down the balls. They’re heavier and they fluff up quite a bit and that’s definitely a disadvantage if you want to be a serve and volley player. When I played I wanted quick balls, the quicker the better because I could flick my wrist and spin the ball and it’s so much easier. It would have been harder to serve and volley today, plus of course the guys return serve today better than they used to do in the past I think. That is quite a big improvement from when I finished.
Question: Tim, do we take it you’re not playing once or twice a week?
Henman: I’m playing a bit more golf than that. No, I’ve played very little tennis. I played with Stefan yesterday and I played for a couple of hours the week before so I haven’t played a great deal. But yesterday was good for me.
Question: What court did you play on?
Henman: We played at Roehampton, at the National Tennis Centre there. It’s fantastic to play there. We both commented on what an amazing facility it is. I’ve practised on clay there and on grass but I’ve hardly ever hit on the indoor courts and they are a fantastic facility. I think the court here is obviously quite a bit quicker but it was good. I think give me a little bit of time away from tennis and I’ll definitely continue to hit balls and play a little bit more because likewise it’s always been a big part of my life. It’s something I’ve always been passionate about but I just think it’s inevitable that I need a bit of a break right now.
Question: Stefan, McEnroe used to get rather agitated that you declined to join in the senior tour.
Edberg: I’m waiting for him to retire first. I’ve been asked quite regularly to play on the tour but I’ve refused so far and I don’t think the chances are that big that I’ll start playing but you never know. It means you have to go back to practising on a regular basis and you have to travel and you play your matches. One night is much better, it’s a great option for me. To enjoy London and play a match like this is fine.
Question: What do you think makes people carry on and want to come back?
Edberg: I can’t say definitely. If you miss tennis then it’s a perfect way of getting back to play in the seniors. Obviously you look at things a little bit different when you’re older. If you win, fine and if you don’t then it’s not the end of the world. I think the guys here really enjoy meeting each other and playing and competing in a much more relaxed way. So I can see the benefits if they still love playing the game because they can still travel around and do the things they did before and they get paid pretty well aswell so it’s like a job.
Question: Stefan, what do you actually do with your days? Are you an investment manager or something?
Edberg: Well, I’ll give you a brief version. Together with some friends I have set up a finance company in Sweden, an investment firm. I’m a part owner and I sit on the board. I also have some property that I manage and a few other projects that I’m involved in so I’m pretty busy at the moment. It keeps my days pretty full.
Question: Do you actually have to follow the markets? Do you make investment decisions and so on?
Edberg: Yes I do absolutely.
Question: So you’re not just a sleeping partner then?
Edberg: No, definitely not. I’m quite involved actually at the moment. I enjoy what I do and I think that’s the most important thing because as a tennis player I used to work 5, 6 or 7 days a week so not to have anything to do would be pretty hard. So I keep myself pretty busy. The big luxury I have is that I can decide what to do with my own time. And obviously I don’t really have to work if I don’t want to but I still like to work and keep busy and do other things. It’s important.
Question: Can I ask you about Roger Federer? He says he’s going to carry on until 2012 and maybe beyond that.
Edberg: I would the way he’s playing.
Question: Could you see him staying number one all the way through another 5 years?
Edberg: It would probably be pretty hard I think for another 5 years. He’s done extremely well for a number of years and so far he’s been pretty lucky, he hasn’t had any major injuries which would be one thing that could stop him. The next thing would be that he could stop working as hard as he probably does at the moment. The way he’s playing now he’s definitely going to do well for a number of years to come but to play constantly the way he’s been playing for another five years, that would be incredible, it really would.
Question: Tennis has had a few scandals and incidents recently. What’s been your take on that? Is it very disappointing to see?
Edberg: Yes. I don’t know much more than what you hear and what you read in the paper obviously. But it’s obviously disappointing and not great for tennis but sometimes even bad publicity is good publicity. It gets people talking about tennis in that respect, but it’s not the way you want them to talk about tennis. I think tennis is such a big worldwide survive and continue to grow.
Question: Do you remember meeting one another in the past? What impressions did you have of one another?
Henman: I can remember pretty clearly. I remember when we first practised at Queens, we talked about it yesterday. I was about 15, maybe 16 at the time and we practised on the indoor courts at Queens which were supreme and incredibly fast. It was a great experience. Stefan had been my idol since I started playing and watching him and the style of play that he played. There was a lot to be learnt from him every time. As I’ve always said I think it was a big influence on my career.
Edberg: I think Tim remembers better than I do. I used to play with a lot of the young English guys because I was living here in London. I can’t really remember the first time but obviously it was at Queens.
Question: Stefan, you stayed with the same coach for most of your career and you seemed to rub along pretty well together and won a few grand slams while you were about it. Are you a bit surprised by the way Andy Murray keeps chopping and changing and has turned his back on Gilbert?
Edberg: I think we’re all different people. I was with Tony for a long time and we had a good relationship and friendship. I can understand why some guys want to make some changes and try something new and try to become a better player. I don't think there’s anything wrong with changing your coach. Obviously if you change it too often then it might not be so good. But you can get some new ideas and take the experience you’ve learned from your previous coach.
Question: Have you seen Andy (Murray) play much?
Edberg: Not really to be honest. He’s done pretty well I think but there’s still some way to go to come to the very best of tennis. The way I look at it there’s been 2 players that have been dominating the game as much as anybody in the past 30 years – it’s Nadal and Federer. They always win their tournaments or lose in the final, it’s extraordinary. But now at least there are a few guys who are coming up and challenging which is nice to see.
Question: From what you’ve see Stefan of that new generation, which are the ones that impress you the most?
Edberg: Like I said, Federer and Nadal are the two best players there are out there. There are a few guys who are challenging right behind. Djokovic, he’s probably the most impressive coming from behind. If he can improve a little bit then he can definitely be up there. A guy like Roddick who’s been around for a long time and he can still win a Slam, no problem, but to be consistent for 12 months of the year there’s still some way to go. So Djokovic would probably be the next one to challenge.
Question: With the facilities we have at Roehampton where you were playing yesterday, are you surprised that we don’t produce more Tims and more Murrays and haven’t done in the past. What would Sweden have done with facilities like that in your day?
Edberg: Only in our dreams! I have to admit it is a fantastic arena. We could have played across 6 courts yesterday which isn’t bad. We were the only ones playing out there at the time. It’s not that easy to produce tennis players. We’ve done it in Sweden for a number of years, actually for 20 or 30 years which has been extraordinary. But I think in the moment in Sweden, and it’s the same here, there are so many different sports today. There are a number of top athletes and I think tennis is not the first choice and it may not be here in England. What has happened I think also is that there is competition worldwide where when I was playing juniors the Russians were stringing their own rackets because they didn’t have the equipment or the trainers. But now the Russians, the Asians and the Latin Americans, they have good coaches and equipment and obviously they have the willpower to work hard. And they are probably working a lot harder than what we do in Sweden at the moment and tennis is a tough sport. It’s a lot of competition and it requires a lot of work out there and there are other nations that are better at the moment and producing more players. They’re probably hungrier I think. If you’re from Russia or Latin America it’s the only way of getting somewhere, to become a good player to buy your family an apartment or your first refrigerator. That’s a big driving force I think. I think they are willing to play 2, 3 or 4 hours a day, day in, day out and I don’t think you have many people like that, at least in Sweden. I think that’s one of the reasons why Swedish tennis was so good at the time because we played for 3 or 4 hours a day. We were working really hard and I think Swedish tennis players in the ‘80s worked a lot harder than any other nation. But now I think there are other nations that work harder than we do and that’s the difference.
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