by Alaric Gomes, Senior Reporter
Dubai: From one great to another, Stefan Edberg has predicted the return of Roger Federer."For any other player, ending a year with one Grand Slam would mean success. But as per Federer's standards, it only means he has to work harder," Edberg told Gulf News after attending the official press conference of The Legends Rock Dubai on Monday.
"Federer is not finished yet," Edberg added.
Edberg, considered one of the finest all-time serve and volley players, saw Federer's dip in form as something very normal for any great player. "Federer and Nadal have been outstanding for men's tennis, but Federer is probably by far one of the greatest players we have had," the Swede said.
During his playing days, the affable Swede enjoyed a similar position in the sport till his retirement in 1996. During that time, Edberg won 42 singles titles including six Grand Slams. "The game has changed since then, but these two [Federer and Nadal] have been dominating men's tennis. It has been only recently that Federer has started losing and this was bound to happen one day," Edberg said.
More Grand Slams
Federer's losses, the Swede remarked, have helped him evolve into a better and more mature player. "I would say it is nice for Federer to have such a season as he must have realised the need to be more offensive in his game. He has to play more serve and volley and get in more variation so that he can come back to where he was."
"Players have realised that he is beatable, but they have to consider that he is still among the best players tennis has ever had. Obviously, things will be tougher for him, but he still has a few more years to go and during this time he will pick up a couple more Grand Slams."
Edberg reiterated that after his surge to the top, Federer won't be able to sustain his ranking for long. "There are new players coming in addition to the ones who are already challenging him at the moment. Maybe he can have another year at the top," he added. Federer's success formula, Edberg mentioned, lay in him [Federer] "staying healthy, motivating himself and working on his game".
"Federer need not worry. There are another two months before the next season starts and a lot can happen till then. Federer still has some time."
Much has evolved in tennis, particularly the way the game is played today. Starting with racquets, balls and the court surfaces, the sport has undergone tremendous change in the past two decades. "But for sure, I would love to see more serve and volley players as it makes the sport more interesting to watch," he said.
Story behind Dubai signing
There is an interesting story on how Stefan Edberg ended up signing for this year's The Legends Rock Dubai.
Farbod Dowlatshahi, president of organisers Delwood, was keen on getting Edberg as the new player in the eight-man field for this year's competition.
But the Swede was just not available due to prior commitments.
"I met him in London after a charity match against Tim Henman. I went up to him and told him that we share the same date of birth [January 19] and that he should come and play in Dubai. But he flatly refused," Dowlatshahi narrated.
Dowlatshahi tried again in May, but once again Edberg was apologetic as he had committed himself to other competitions.
However, luck finally smiled on the organisers last week as Goran Ivanisevic withdrew from the Dubai competition and one of Edberg's committed tournaments got cancelled.
"That was an absolute blast and that is how we have Stefan Edberg with us today," Dowlatshahi said.
During the 1990s, Edberg, considered one of the finest all-time serve and volley players won 42 singles titles including six Grand Slams.
"Of course we are sad we do not have Goran with us, but to have Edberg play right here is simply amazing."
"It's such a pleasure to be here and I am stunned to see the changes that have taken place here in such a short time," Edberg exclaimed.
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