Timeless Edberg

An article from: La Gazzetta dello Sport
by Vincenzo Martucci

Takes revenge on Chang with the game of his twenties

PARIS. Thanks Stefan Edberg, most determined to drop the curtain with a «souvenir de Paris», that today is the scalp of Michael Chang, but in his dreams is the only title missing in his Grand Slam diadem. Thanks, most of all, Philippe Chatrier, big tennis brain, who, before leaving his chair, started the French revolution on clay, speeding up courts and balls of the Roland Garros. So the fourth round in the toughest and most tactical tournament says: Sampras-Draper, Ferreira-Courier, Bjorkman-Krajicek, Clavet-Kafelnikov, Ivanisevic-Karbacher, Rosset-Edberg, Pioline-Rios, Stich-Muster.

There are Spartacus Muster, who forces Voinea to retire for double injury (thigh and ankle), and the last of Spanish clay-court specialists Clavet. There are two typical baseline attackers like Courier and Rios. But the others are all attackers who immediately go for the point or look for the net solution. As the thirty thousand who flood Port d’Auteil like.

There would also be Michael Chang, runner-up last year. But today the little rubber man with springs in his legs feels himself out of history. He, who in 1989 led the other revolution, that put him on the throne at just 17 years and three months of age, cutting off Lendl’s and Edberg’s heads, while Arancia Sanchez imitated him against Graf.

The little Chinese immediately shoots his fireworks, but on the score of 6-4 5-4 makes a grimace, touches his chest, doesn’t push anymore with his serve and, as soon as he concedes the double fault of 5-5 30-40, has to face the Edberg of seven years ago. «The almost unbeatable one, the number 1, who played a perfect tennis».

Totally different from the Reebok commercial with the Chinese wall and American citizen son of Taiwan who said: «I’m the wall». The second set flies away from him in a moment, the third in 22 minutes and zero games: «I lost my timing and then also my concentration, I could no longer find the ball on returns while he suddenly played well and the match turned around».

"I felt like I was twenty years old again. Certainly I would have preferred to have won in ’89, but I went back to that time and it was fantastic. I played like then. Only this way I could beat someone like Chang on clay…"

It’s true, the Swede «plays on a cloud», as Virginia Ruzici tells on Eurosport. But it’s also true that Chang is not Chang, as Edberg says: «I realized something was wrong with him, I felt an evident loss of power». It’s clear that little Michael is as lonely as ever on the big Roland Garros Centre Court. But it’s as clear that he doesn’t want to spoil his most beautiful dream: he who beats Edberg in the final on that same court in five sets.

Six all: tie-break. And here’s the miracle of class and motivation from the champion who is looking for his last joy on his sunset boulevard. «I felt like I was twenty years old again. Certainly I would have preferred to have won in ’89, but I went back to that time and it was fantastic. I played like then. Only this way I could beat someone like Chang on clay… The service. It’s the key: once I found it again and I started moving better on clay, I regained confidence in all the rest of my game and, most of all, in my volleys».

Here is the serve and volley king who starts his clock again. Here’s the great dancer who cheers himself up on the return. Here are his continuous, wearisome net attacks. Chang gives away the double fault of 3-1 and the passing of 4-1 («I missed too many of those»), then he doesn’t even realize that he has to change end on 5-1 («I thought we were 4-1»), before throwing away the rally that’s worth the match, after 2 hours and 42 minutes. (…)

 

We’ll miss his style

by Rino Tommasi

PARIS. Stefan Edberg would very probably swap willingly his wonderful victory of yesterday on Michael Chang with one of those 10 break points who prevented him, in that famous 1989 final, from winning this tournament, the only Slam missing in the Swedish champion’s record. But since such exchanges are not allowed, we register this revenge after seven years as a confirmation of Edberg’s rehabilitation as a clay court player in this last season.

He won a match started in uphill, as Chang not only went a set up, but also took a break (3-1) in the second, ensuring him a match of at least two hours and a half, a demanding length for a player like Edberg, both because he is already older than thirty and for his style of play that forced him to risky net attacks.

Chang, two sets to one down, came back in the fourth, in which he only left six points in six rounds of serve. Edberg knew he was risking his match in the tie-break and he played it with the determination and the clearness of an undisputed champion.

We’ll miss Edberg’s tennis, more and more determined to quit at the end of this season, but we’ll also miss a gentleman, able to concede to an irritating and suspicious Chang all the uncertain calls. Besides the elegant volleys and the splendid backhands, yesterday Edberg taught how to behave.

Timeless Edberg