By Jan Stanski
Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander, Stefan Edberg, Magnus Norman, Thomas Enqvist, Thomas Johansson, Robin Soderling. Tennis fans all around the world know these names – the names of the glory of Swedish tennis.
Stefan Edberg was one of the most prominent serve and volley player ever. The 48-year old Swede is now back in the game as coach of Roger Federer and the team is called “Fedberg”. His impact on Roger’s caused the title in Dubai #78 in the career. The recent one before was in Halle last year and then most of the observers stand for being skeptical about next achievements of Swiss Maestro especially for winning Slam… and then came Stefan!
One of the common points of these two gentlemen is style of elegance and fair play as well as on and off the court. Roger was honored many times to gain the special ATP Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award like the last year at the end of the season. The Swiss, after couple of training sessions with Swede, believed in him and that he will rebuild his game, attitude, motivation and will to win next matches.
It seems like the magic worked out.
With 806 winnings in the career, 41 singles titles including 6 Slams, 18 doubles titles, being #1 ranked player for 72 weeks, 4 times Davis Cup winner, Olympic bronze medalist , “the extraordinarily graceful attacker” from Västervik ended up his adventure with professional tennis in year 1996. “Tennis will miss Stefan Edberg. If not for his quiet wit and subtle charm, then for a brand of tennis that just isn’t played enough anymore” – we could read in September 1996 when he retired from tennis. He joined Tennis Hall of Fame in 2004. “It was a tough year for me, ’89, losing two Slam finals and losing another five finals. It wasn’t until I won the Masters, or what’s now called the ATP Finals, that things changed again. Suddenly I won seven tournaments in 1990 and became No. 1” – said Stefan back in the days. What will tennis be like without Edberg? “It will continue, with more and more tall and strong players, as it has been for ten years now. When I started I was a kind of white fly, now I pass almost unnoticed”. These words were said 18 years ago and are still important.
Stefan’s show close to the net, wonderful one-handed backhand and elegance meant that he was one of the most watched tennis virtuosos in the world in the days of great rivalry with Boris Becker and the Americans. “If you serve well, your volleys are going to be so much easier. It has got to do with confidence, obviously” – used to say the Roger Federer’s childhood idol. The Swede from the beginning stated that Roger must attack more at the net.
On stefanstennis.free.fr – the tennis site dedicated to Edberg in the poll 90% of the voters still believe that Roger can win another Major with Stefan as a coach.
“Stefan Iceberg”, “Blonde Adonis”, “The Graceful Elegance” these are the nicknames of the Swede during his time on the court. It’s nice to see him in the Roger’s box. Does the King return to the throne?