May 27, 2004
TONY TRABERT: I want to welcome everyone on this teleconference. We appreciate your being on board. Of course, for Stefan, who is in Sweden, we appreciate his being available. I'd like to start with asking Stefan a question. I wanted to ask you what it means to you to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
STEFAN EDBERG: Obviously, it's quite an honor, since there are a lot of great players from the past that have been inducted, I'm really glad that I will be one of them, and I'm looking forward to come to Newport this summer.
TONY TRABERT: You know this is the 50th anniversary of the Hall of Fame. We'll have a lot of Hall of Famers back for this particular weekend.
STEFAN EDBERG: Obviously, that will make it very special and it will be great to see some of the players I played with in the past. Also great to have Steffi Graf being inducted at the same time as me. That feels really good.
TONY TRABERT: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. There was a letter that went out, open letter to the ITF, last year at Wimbledon that was cosigned by a lot of people from McEnroe to Becker, Navratilova, Cash, that complained that the game is becoming one-dimensional, calling for some broad changes in racquet technology and so forth, sort of lamented the death of the serve-and-volley game. I wanted your take on that, if that is something you would ever sign on to?
STEFAN EDBERG: I can't remember exactly what was said. I can't be too sure. Obviously, tennis goes through changes and cycles. You know, having been away from the game now from a couple of years since I stopped here obviously, looking at the game today, one would wish to see a little bit more variation of play out there. But at the same time, you know, tennis makes progress. Might not be as exciting as it was in the past, but it depends who you ask. Younger people may be on a different opinion. I'm not quite sure. But it's hard to make changes, but at least one can look at it. If there is anything that can be done to improve the game, you should always look at those things.
Q. When you watch the game today, do you tend to be more interested in somebody like Federer, serve and volleyer?
STEFAN EDBERG: If I had to choose one to watch today, I think Roger Federer is the most exciting player to watch out there because he plays an all-over-court game. He plays serve and volley, can play from the back of the court. At least that is what I like to see out there. But like I said before, it's a little bit more variation wouldn't hurt the game, to have a little bit more contrast of styles, because that usually makes it a little bit more interesting.
Q. Stefan, congratulations.
STEFAN EDBERG: Thank you.
Q. Could you tell us your most memorable moment?
STEFAN EDBERG: Well, I think there's been a lot of memorable moments. But, you know, it comes to, you know, the big wins that you have during your career. Obviously, winning Wimbledon first time is a very, very special feeling. Being brought up in Sweden, having watched all Bjorn Borg's five victories on the grass, to be able to do the same back in 1988, that was a very special moment to go on the court. But there's a few other things. You know, when I won the US Open in '91, when I beat Courier in the final, was probably the best tennis match that I've played during my career. I can also think about, you know, winning Davis Cup 1984 against the US on home ground. That was very big at the time. There's plenty of memories.
Q. Talking about that Davis Cup, at 18, did you think, "Wow"?
STEFAN EDBERG: It was my first Davis Cup year, and it was a packed Scandinavian playing against the US team with McEnroe, Connors, Fleming-McEnroe at the doubles. It was very exciting at the time.
Q. Who did you consider your biggest rival during your career?
STEFAN EDBERG: Well, there was a few. But, obviously, I think Boris Becker and myself played three Wimbledon finals in a row. We're about the same age. We played a lot of finals on the tour. So I think that would be the pick, I think, which I had most of my rivalries with. But, you know, I had the opportunity to play against all the players, starting with Connors, McEnroe, Lendl, Pete Sampras, Agassi. It was nice.
Q. Was there any match, looking back at your career, that sticks in your craw as the one that got away from you?
STEFAN EDBERG: Yeah, it comes back to French Open because I had a great chance of winning the French Open back in 1989, playing against Michael Chang in the final. That is really the match that you would sort of like to replay a few points, which really could have made a big difference. But at the time I didn't really think about it that much because, hey, I had the best French Open, and I thought I would get more chances to win the title. But it never came around again.
Q. Out of all the old Hall of Famers, is there any particular one that caught your interest that you sort of missed, haven't played against, or really caught your interest of the older generation?
STEFAN EDBERG: Well, I played against quite a few of them that have been inducted. Bjorn Borg was one that I never played a real match against. I played some exhibitions, but they're not quite the same. Obviously, it would have been great to play players of the past that were great at their times, like Rod Laver or something. But, you know, that's history now.
Q. Have you sort of studied any one of them?
STEFAN EDBERG: Not really because I was sort of brought up in the '70s with tennis. I didn't really study. Of course, I studied McEnroe, Lendl, Connors, Borg. That was really the era that I had availability to watch when I was growing up. Obviously, I studied these kind of players when I was young, especially Borg, which was a great influence to a lot of Swedish players. You know, you took a little bit from him, not the way he played, but I guess the way he was on the court.
Q. Talking about Borg, did it mean something special to you to win the US Open after many tries, doing something that Borg never did?
STEFAN EDBERG: Yes. You know, winning the US Open, it's a tough cookie to win. I have to admit, I had problems in the beginning with the US Open because it was quite an atmosphere there. It was quite noisy, a lot of people moving around, very loud with all the airplanes going over the US Open. Maybe wasn't my favorite tournament in the beginning of my career of the Grand Slams, but as you get used to the environment, you progress and you start playing well, you have to forget about all these things around. But thinking back, the US Open has a very, very special atmosphere, and it's really a difficult one to win because you have to be sort of an all-around court player to be able to win at The Open. It means a lot when you win there. Obviously, Mats Wilander was before me winning it. But a great one to win.
Q. Was there pressure on you from the Swedish press because Borg been win in 10 tries, you were on your 9th?
STEFAN EDBERG: Yes, you know, because I was at the top of the game. I was always expected to do well. For me, the way I played, obviously the French Open. But apart from that, I think I always liked playing Australia. Didn't have too much problem. I think the US Open was one of the toughest to win with all the things going on around the court, all the noise, all the different weather changes. You can play in really hot weather one day, the next day you're playing at night and almost freezing cold out there. It was probably the second most difficult to win of the four Grand Slams.
Q. You were known for a lot in your career, for your style of play, the serve-and-volley game, your grace. You were also known as a great sportsman. Is that something you took a lot of pride in?
STEFAN EDBERG: As the years go by, yes, it's something that I can be proud of. You know, always thought to be quite important as an idol to many people, having somebody to look up to and be a good example. To me sportsmanship is very, very important - maybe even more important in today's society. Something that I'm proud of and feel that it's very important to have these kind of people around.
Q. Seems like it took a lot to get you rattled on court.
STEFAN EDBERG: Yes.
Q. You weren't one to do a lot of complaining. Can you remember one time when it was hard for you to hold back?
STEFAN EDBERG: There were a number of occasions because inside that system there were some things going on. There were times where you just had to scream out. You didn't have particularly to say something, but just get the air out of the system. There were many times that I was frustrated, but it's a little bit like having a poker face. That was the way I was brought up. Maybe that's the way I am as a person. I think Bjorn Borg was a great example that coaches remind of you to behave on the court, was to be like Bjorn Borg. He was the iceman on court. He showed less emotion than I did.
Q. Federer often mentions you as his favorite player when he was growing up. Do you see your stylistic influence when you watch Federer? Do you think he can win the Grand Slam either this year or a career Grand Slam?
STEFAN EDBERG: I think it's very possible. I think he's only about 22 years of age. You know, he's got all the weapons that is needed to win on all four surfaces. He's proved that he can play really well on the clay, which obviously is going to be the toughest one for him to win. But, you know, if he can stay physically healthy here and not having too many injuries over the next couple of years, I think he's a player that really could dominate the game a little bit, the same way as Pete Sampras did for a while. He really has a lot of potential. It wouldn't surprise me if he can at least win one of the four Grand Slams. To do it in one year, it's nearly impossible today, I think, but he would be the only one I think today that can do it.
Q. You were known as such a graceful player. How important was your movement to your success as a champion?
STEFAN EDBERG: Well, I think it really was the key, is my physical fitness and the way I was moving around the court. That was really my strength. I didn't really particularly hit the ball that hard. I think really the movement was really the key to my game, playing solid, and obviously aggressive tennis. The really key factor was the movement. I think it is to most of the players out there, is to be able to move around the court in the right way because everybody can hit the ball out there, but it's getting to it, getting to the right place at the right time. That's really what tennis is all about. It's actually a little bit of a running sport.
Q. I know you did that Fantasy Camp in Scottsdale. Are you going to be doing any more clinics or camps in the future?
STEFAN EDBERG: It's very possible if it fits into my schedule, because I do a number of sort of either exhibitions or camps. I do it three, four, five times a year. Quite happy doing that. So I think it's very possible it will happen over the next few years.
Q. Swedish tennis has lost some ground in the last years.
STEFAN EDBERG: Yes.
Q. Do you see any new Swedish guy likely to be in a big final in the next couple of years?
STEFAN EDBERG: Well, as you know, we've had a great period of great players. Looking at Swedish tennis today, there are some guys that has potential, which is Robin Soderling, Joachim Johansson, which is the two young guys that really has stuck out from the others. But they still are far away from getting into Grand Slam final. They may need another year or two or even possibly three before they're ready, looking at the results of what they've done so far. But they do have some potential to get up through some good rankings, but a long way to go still. But has the potential.
Q. You haven't run into anyone like 16-year-olds or 17-year-olds?
STEFAN EDBERG: No. Unfortunately, I haven't. There are some good players around 15 years of age here where I practice, which as of today has potential. But it's a long, long way to go from when you're 14, 15.
Q. Sweden in a US Open final, at least two or three years from now?
STEFAN EDBERG: I would say at least two years, looking at it realistically. I really hope they do surprise me.
Q. Your experiences in the Olympics, you were there two times. Did you find that quite a contrast to the Grand Slam events?
STEFAN EDBERG: Yes, it is. It was actually a great experience. Actually, I went to three Olympics, being in Los Angeles, as well, back in 1984. It was a very different experience because I was staying in the village among all the other athletes, which is quite a treat. You don't really live in a five-star environment when you're in the Olympic village. That's quite a change from the normal tennis life you do live. But it's great being among so many athletes, being able to talk with other athletes from other sports, and being able to see a few events. So that was quite special and nothing I would have liked to miss.
Q. In terms of the 50th anniversary Hall of Fame, I'd like to congratulate Tony Trabert on the 50th anniversary of his French Open win.
TONY TRABERT: Thank you. I'd like to thank everyone for participating in the teleconference, particularly Stefan for making himself available over there in Sweden.
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