by Florian Regelmann
translated into English by La Zingara
Stefan Edberg became a legend with two Wimbledon titles. SPOX spoke with the Swede before the start of Wimbledon about his matches against Boris Becker, Roger Federer’s problems and Leeds United
Edberg and Becker before the 1990 Wimbledon final
SPOX: Mr. Edberg, simple question to start: What do you really do now?
Edberg: Tennis is only a small part of my life. Although, I try to play three times a week and I also take part of a few tournaments on the Champions Tour, but that’s all. I take care of my investment company in Sweden. I can live a normal life there. It's all very relaxed.
SPOX: When the German tennis fans think back of you, they have in their memory your three Wimbledon finals against Boris Becker. It started in 1988 when you won in four sets.
Edberg: Playing three consecutive finals, of course, was a fantastic thing. I still remember very well how I reached the first final against Boris. The quarterfinals were against Patrik Kühnen and then, I came back from two sets down against Miloslav Mecir in the semifinals. I had absolutely nothing to lose in the final. The first Wimbledon victory is always something very special. I saw Bjorn Borg win Wimbledon five times – that made it also a very special and very sweet moment to me.
SPOX: One year later, Becker had his revenge: 6:0, 7:6, 6:4. That was a pretty clear score. What happened?
Edberg: It was a bitter and painful loss for me, without any doubt. The context was quite different, after my victory the year before, I came into the tournament with great expectations. But in the final, I had to accept that Boris was clearly the best player on that day. He was too good for me.
SPOX: And then came 1990, the third final...
Edberg: That was certainly the best final. In this match, I've played really good - and at the end, winning the second Wimbledon title after a five sets match, is also one of the most beautiful moments of my career. Especially because, a little bit later, I became the world number one.
SPOX: You have played countless duels with Becker. It was a great rivalry. Do you still have contact?
Edberg: We have not that much contact and see each other rarely. But in a way, all our matches keep us connected. I would say that we have a special relationship. We show a great respect for each other.
SPOX: Edberg vs. Becker was a complete serve-and-volley tennis. If you look at Wimbledon today, you see a lot of green at the net. The brown areas are now located at the baseline. How do you explain that?
Edberg: In a certain way, it makes me sad that they disappeared. I know that times are changing and it’s due to the slowing down of the balls and the surfaces. It’s an environment that makes it difficult to play serve-and-volley, but I still think that this kind of game fits.
SPOX: But wouldn’t someone who plays serve-and-volley constantly, be “killed” at the net in today's tennis?
Edberg: If someone would do every time, it would certainly be easy to guess his game. But if someone can come and play a good mix, he could be an unpleasant opponent and exert much pressure. It would be nice, because it would give tennis more variations.
SPOX: Roger Federer could have the skill to play serve-and-volley.
Edberg: Yes, but he does not do it. Roger plays mostly from the baseline, and with all his victories, somehow it’s understandable.
SPOX: Is Federer again the big favourite to win Wimbledon this year?
Edberg: He is definitely one of the favourites, but in my opinion, not really the hottest one. There are a lot of other players who could win the tournament. Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick - Robin Soderling also. Like Björn Borg, I think that Robin has a chance to become number one if he stays healthy and improves his game. For Andy Murray, I am a little bit more sceptical. He is actually good enough to win Grand Slams, but lately he has taken a step back.
SPOX: Let’s go back briefly to Federer. Is Roger the best player of all times?
Edberg: It is difficult to compare, but I would say that Roger is the number one. I was really pleased for him when he won last year's French Open. Paris was the only Gran Slam tournament that I missed. The defeat against Michael Chang was the bitterest of my career, so I know how important this title was for Roger. He is no longer as dominant as he was sometimes, but I am convinced that he has still two or three good years ahead of him, in which he can win Grand Slams. Afterwards, it will get harder for him.
SPOX: Finally, a soccer issue. You are a big fan of Leeds United. I know that Tomas Brolin has once played in Leeds. How did you get to be a Leeds fan?
Edberg: A long time ago, in Sweden, I watched English football on television. Leeds had a great team and so I became a fan. But since I lived in London, I have also become a Chelsea fan. Thankfully. They play way much better (laughs).
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