Looking forward to the Wimbledon final between Federer and Nadal, the ATP Official site published this nice interview in which Stefan Edberg remembers his first success at the Championships.
It's been 20 years since one of the game's all-time best serve-and-volleyers captured his first Wimbledon title.
In 1988, Stefan Edberg captured his first of two Wimbledon titles, defeating long-time rival Boris Becker in a rain-delayed Monday final. They would meet again in the final the next two years, marking the first time in the Open Era (since 1968) the same two players squared off in three straight Grand Slam title matches.
Since then, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have played in three consecutive Roland Garros finals, and the duo are on course to meet in a third straight championship at Wimbledon.
"Back in 1988, it's quite a long time,” said Edberg, from his countryside home outside of Grimslov, Sweden. “Obviously at the time, I had won two Australian Opens and playing Becker in the final, he already won twice (at Wimbledon) and he had the experience. I hadn't played in a Wimbledon final.” In the semifinals, Edberg rallied from a two-set deficit against Miloslav Mecir, and then lost the opening set to Becker in the final before rallying to win in four sets.
“I knew I had a chance and I was down and out against Mecir in the semifinals but coming back to win that match gave me confidence going into the final,” said Edberg, a six-time Grand Slam singles champion. “We only played five games on Sunday due to rain and we came back to play on Monday. I lost the first set and the turn around came in the second set when I won the tie-break. I was playing quite well at the time and I continued the rest of the match.”
Edberg, who also won two Australian Open and two US Open titles while finishing No. 1 in 1990-91, says following in the footsteps of countryman and five-time Wimbledon winner Bjorn Borg, was the ultimate accomplishment.
"Once a Wimbledon champion, always a Wimbledon champion and it was a big thing in Sweden,” said Edberg, who also won the Wimbledon junior title in 1984. “It was the biggest thing to win Wimbledon, with all it's tradition and what it means. It's quite a privilege and being an honorary member of the club. And it's very, very special as a tennis player to be a Wimbledon champion.”
Edberg lost to Becker in straight sets in the 1989 final but avenged the loss with a five-sets triumph over the German in 1990. The following year, Edberg nearly reached his fourth consecutive final but lost to eventual champion Michael Stich 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6 in the semifinals despite not losing serve.
"It was quite big at the time and we played three finals in a row which was really special,” said Edberg, who was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2004. “It was a nice era and obviously there was a lot of interest in Sweden and Germany. Tennis was very popular in both countries.”
When asked about the differences in grass court tennis and the lack of serve and volleyers from his era, Edberg pointed to two areas.
"Grass court tennis has changed over the last decade and it's played differently and you don't have any serve and volley players. This has happened because they kept the courts longer and balls are heavier now and they soften up quickly. It would be really difficult to play serve and volley and you have to be extremely strong. And I guess guys are returning better today.”
“There were some extremely good servers with Boris and Goran. You have some bigger servers today but they don't follow-up going to the net. With Boris and Goran you wouldn't get any rhythm and if you dropped your serve it was extremely difficult to come back and win the set.”
Edberg is intrigued by the Federer-Nadal rivalry and is impressed by their consistent performances over the past four years.
"Wherever they play they reach the final and they've had an incredible run,” he said. “They have very few letdowns and I've never seen anything else like that. There hasn't been two guys dominating the game the way they've had as much as they've done. This rivalry is great for tennis and the quality of matches are extremely high level. Now you need a new name or two, like Djokovic, and it would be nice to see some new faces coming up.”
And what are Edberg’s thoughts on this weekend’s championship?
"I think more than likely Nadal has a great chance of winning and especially with the slow conditions, but at the same time Federer is the best grass court player. If he (Federer) stays back he will find it a difficult time. He needs to mix it up. Nobody is going to beat him from the baseline on a clay court and you need to take away his rhythm and need to go for your shots and come in more. It could be a classic again.”
- Edberg and Navratilova test the 2018 Wimbledon courts
- Federer criticizes young players: "I wish they volleyed more"
- Edberg to BBC: "Federer is the greatest in my eyes"
- Edberg: "No one thought Federer and Nadal would be here today"
- Stefan in Federer's box at Wimbledon
- Stefan Edberg in illustrious company
- Dubai: Edberg laments dying art form
- Federer is not finished yet - Edberg
- US Open: a champion's reflection
- Rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal reminds Stefan Edberg of finals
- Edberg about the Australian Open
- Press conference in London before Henman match
- Stefan Edberg - About US Open
- What's actually doing... Stefan Edberg?
- The Tennis Week Interview - Stefan Edberg