Stefan Edberg interviewed by The Sunday Times answers the Best & Worst game about his professional career.
From The Sunday Times
What was the best moment of your career?
The first time I became the world’s No 1-ranked player in 1990 would be right up there with winning Wimbledon two years earlier. Ivan Lendl was the player I knocked off the top and he’d been there a long time.
What was your worst moment?
There are two. The first was losing the final of French Open in 1989 to a 17-year-old Michael Chang. It was the only time I got beyond the quarter-final at Roland Garros. The other was 7½ years later and my last match, which came in the Davis Cup final against France in Malmo. I knew it was where I would bow out but I got injured early in my first match against Cedric Pioline. I lost in straight sets.
What was the best thing about being a player in your era?
I played in the tail-end of one stunning era and figured in another later in my career. McEnroe, Connors and Lendl were still around when I broke through. Boris [Becker] was pretty much a constant as we began playing each other when we were juniors but then Sampras, Agassi, Courier and Goran [Ivanisevic] came to the fore when the older guys bowed out. There was a little more edge between the players in that first era but the quality of play was always so high in the second.
What was the worst thing about tennis in your era?
The rain delays at Wimbledon. I look at the Centre Court roof and wish it was there in my time.
Who was the best coach you had and why?
Most people think I only ever had one coach, Britain’s Tony Pickard, but they would be wrong. When I was young I worked with Percy Rosberg, the man who first spotted Borg’s talent. Technically he was so good and his help was invaluable. But Tony was the best coach for me and we stuck together throughout my top career. He had to be tough at times. Tony became almost a second father and that special relationship still holds true to this day.
Who was the best player you played against?
The opponent who gave me the most problems was unquestionably Pete Sampras. We played 14 times in all and he won eight. His serve was phenomenal and his overall game so strong. He would overpower you and was the complete player with just about every shot.
What was the best venue you played at?
Predictable but true, nowhere can compare to Wimbledon’s Centre Court. It is almost sacred. But Kooyong, the home of the Australian Open before it moved to Melbourne Park, also has great memories because it was where I won my first major title. It was always a great feeling down there.
Who is the best player today?
No hesitation: Roger Federer. In the same way Sampras was at his peak, Roger is the complete player and I was happy for him when he finally won the French Open this year. It was the only Grand Slam title that I didn’t win. Sampras, Becker, Connors and Newcombe suffered the same fate. Federer goes into every Grand Slam as the major contender and I can see that lasting for a while yet. Will things change now he is a father? I have no idea but from my experiences I know it didn’t get any easier when it came to focusing on my tennis when my daughter and then my son came along.
What is the worst thing about the game today?
I always played serve and volley and there are few players who specialise in those tactics now. It’s easy to understand because with the changes in technology the game got too fast so steps were taken to slow it a little in terms of surface and balls. But it would be wrong if the art of attacking the net to hit the winning volley disappeared.
What was the best advice you were given as a player?
I remember early in my career practising with Jimmy Connors. He insisted there was no point being out there if you were not giving 100% and that every point mattered. He told me if you had that outlook in practice then it would make you even more focused in matches. It’s a lesson every young player should be taught.
WHERE ARE YOU NOW?
Tennis remains a part of my life and I play a few tournaments each year on the ATP Champions Tour. I don’t think you ever lose the urge to be competitive but I have plenty of other things on the go. I have always taken a keen interest in the international stock market and spend a couple of hours every day in front of my computer working on my portfolio. I am also involved in property rental around my hometown, Vaxjo, in Sweden. Sport-wise, I keep an eye on the fortunes of Leeds United and hope better times are coming back, and I play a lot of squash. It’s a great game and I support the campaign to make it an Olympic sport. But most important is my family; my wife, Annette, daughter Emilie, who is now 16, and son Christopher, who is 12.
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