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September 3, 1996

Stefan Edberg


Q. Stefan, your first quarterfinals since Australia '94. Can you tell us how that feels and what it means?

STEFAN EDBERG: It feels good. I saw my chance here this week since beating Krajicek. The draw has opened up a little bit. But you still have to win your matches. I had to fight really hard to win the match today. You know, some of the pressure comes off. I'm playing Goran here. I'm feeling pretty good.

Q. You occasionally practiced with him, I guess, over the years a few times. How often?

STEFAN EDBERG: Yeah, I play with a lot of English guys. Practicing most of the time at Queen's Club in London. I've been practicing quite a bit with him when he's been at home.

Q. Did that have an effect, do you think, today?

STEFAN EDBERG: I don't know. I know how he plays. He's improved so much since we practiced last time. Had a good summer, had a great Wimbledon. He's so much more confident now than what he was before. He's really developed since last time.

Q. How do you rate your performance today against the first three rounds?

STEFAN EDBERG: Today wasn't easy. I think what happened, I was in control of the beginning of the match. I could have got up 4-1. Somehow, you know, I lost the first set. I shouldn't have really lost that one because I made quite a few big mistakes at 5-4 serving. That sort of gave him the chance. He got more confident. He started playing better. I had a little trouble with the timing today at times. But I think winning the second tiebreaker got me back to square again. After that, third and fourth sets was pretty good, I thought. I'm happy that I came through, but I did have to work hard today, because it wasn't all happening for me.

Q. Have you started to let yourself think a little bit about winning the whole thing?

STEFAN EDBERG: No. It's too far away, it really is. I've got a tough match coming up. Now is when the really tough matches start coming around, quarterfinals, semifinals, finals. That's the time you need to raise your game, be out there, be hungry. I mean, the thing is I feel good about my game. I feel I have a chance in my next match. That's all I need.

Q. Are you hungry?

STEFAN EDBERG: I'm pretty hungry, yes. It's fun playing. Like today was hard work, though. But, you know, I got my way through. Hopefully I'll be feeling a little bit better next round, I will serve a little bit better, which I think will be really important against Goran.

Q. Which specific part of your game besides your serve are you going to be working on against Goran?

STEFAN EDBERG: It's not an easy opponent the way he plays. Obviously if I can play steady, that's going to be a big help. Always with Goran is getting his serve back, that's really the key. If you can get his first serve back and get his second serve back in play, then you have a chance of beating him. If you don't get enough serves back, then it's really difficult. That's really been the case in all the times when we played each other.

Q. Stefan, there was a point in the second set tiebreaker where there was an exchange of lobs, you ran down a lob. Could you talk a little about that.

STEFAN EDBERG: Well, that's what it takes to win tennis matches. That was one of the great points of the match. It's so important that, you know, you have these points where you sort of lift your game, you come out as a winner. That's really what tennis is all about, you know, getting those shots which were impossible and hitting these winners when you don't expect them and when you need them. Those are important.

Q. The farther you go in this tournament, anywhere in your mind are you second guessing your decision to retire at all?

STEFAN EDBERG: No. Here it comes again.

(Laughter) You can keep trying, but it won't go anywhere.

Q. What if you win this, Stefan? What if you win the whole thing? Don't you come here to defend?

STEFAN EDBERG: Maybe I come back and watch next year.

Q. Can you say that no matter what happens from here, that this has been a pretty nice way to spend your last US Open?

STEFAN EDBERG: I think it is. It's the way you want to finish. You want to finish strong, you want to finish playing good tennis. I sort of see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know I've got so much time to push myself. I'm ready to push myself. I'm sort of looking forward to play, but I know that I can't go on for years, just pushing your body and pushing yourself to the limits, because sometimes it's going to be enough. I think the good end of this year will be sort of nice.

Q. You beat Ivanisevic a couple times, like in Rome this year. That can help?

STEFAN EDBERG: Well, hopefully. Looking at the match when we played in Rome, I was playing good. He wasn't really in form. I beat him at Queen's Club. He started off the season so well, played some extremely good tennis. Maybe he wasn't playing his best tennis, but still takes a lot to beat him. Now I think is a different story. He's in much better shape, he's playing better. It's going to be tougher tomorrow, but it's nothing that's impossible. It always helps to go out against a guy that you know you've beaten the last couple of times.

Q. A couple nights ago you talked about with Jimmy Connors a few years ago, it took someone really special. But people who play you say the crowd is lifting you. To some degree are you seeing the crowd embrace you, maybe not like that, but close?

STEFAN EDBERG: If you look, if you look at today, the crowd was definitely behind me once again. It does help, especially. But at the same time you need to play some good tennis so you can get the crowd behind you, because otherwise you're not. You need to sort of be in the match. Then it is a factor, then it does help.

Q. Do you feel them worrying about you? I mean, every time you lose a point out there, there's an "Uhhhh". They're dying for you. Is it worrisome that they don't trust you?

STEFAN EDBERG: I'm not sure. You can't win all the points in tennis. As long as you win the last one, that's what counts.

Q. Stefan, you've always said that you'd like Stockholm to be your last tournament. It seems almost certainly you've qualified for the Grand Slam Cup. Might this be a way to postpone your retirement for a couple weeks?

STEFAN EDBERG: That's a good question. I'll be playing towards the end of the year. Stockholm will be the last tournament on the ATP Tour. Grand Slam Cup, I've never really thought about. Another option would be Davis Cup finals. I keep those weeks open. I may show up there, who knows.

Q. It took you a long time to adjust playing here, then you won. Was it just winning here that's helped you get more acclimated? What makes this so different from the other Grand Slams?

STEFAN EDBERG: Definitely winning here really turned things around. Because I had some good years in '86, '87. Apart from that, I didn't play well here. I don't know the reason, because the surface fits my game. Winning makes a big difference, different approach to everything. I feel good about coming here. It can be a great atmosphere out there, because people, they can get wild, especially in the evenings. I think it will be a great match to watch tonight, for instance. People are going to probably be behind Pete, though.

Q. Then didn't you say something, was it that you didn't live in New York anymore? Didn't you do something to switch it? Was it when you moved to Long Island?

STEFAN EDBERG: Yeah, I think that really made a difference. A lot of the times I was staying in the city, which sometimes is tough. I rented some house out on Long Island and changed the strategy a little bit, ate at home quite a bit. It's a lot sort of calmer out on the island. That made a big difference, I think. I'm back in the city now, and it's not bad there either.

Q. When is the last time you got hit in the head with a ball?

STEFAN EDBERG: I don't know. I think I've never been hit so hard. It was a clean header that I hit, so (laughter). I have a little bump up here. That's something you have to take.

Q. Tim Henman is just beginning his career, but you had to play really hard tennis to pull this out today to come from behind to win. Does this go back with you as something special, one that you remember, because it gets to you this quarterfinal, or is it just another?

STEFAN EDBERG: No, this is a special year. It is my last Grand Slam. It's great that I can perform and win these matches, because it's not easy playing best of five sets. It's hot and humid a lot of the times. You need to be physically pretty strong and mentally strong to come through these matches. So, you know, I feel good about that.

Q. It's probably the first time in a Grand Slam at least five matches in a row on center court.

STEFAN EDBERG: I think it is. I hope they keep me there. It definitely helped, like I said before. It's a great court. It's the best one to be on. There's lots of room to play. You can play from the back of the court, play my game. It really is a good court.

Q. Do you think this story line of your retirement plays in the head of opponents or do you believe they can just focus on the court?

STEFAN EDBERG: I don't know what the other guys think when they come up against me playing. I haven't got a clue.

Q. Would you expect that Ivanisevic could just block that out?

STEFAN EDBERG: I think, you know, looking at him this week, he's kept himself very, very calm. I think that's really going to be key for him in the next match, too. Usually when he plays his best tennis.

Q. Stefan, you mentioned you've hit with Tim and he's improved a lot this summer. How do you assess his potential?

STEFAN EDBERG: He definitely has potential because the way he hits the ball, hits it really clean, he's moving well around the court. I think physically he can improve a little bit. I think experience is going to play. I think he's really lifted his game over the last couple of months. I think Wimbledon was huge for him, confidence-wise. He just has to build on what he has achieved so far and set up his goals and work a lot. He's going to move up the rankings, no question about it. How far he can get, it's always hard to predict.

Q. Ten aces, two double-faults was a good score, I think.


Q. Yes.

STEFAN EDBERG: It's great. No foot faults (laughter).

Q. You say because you can't play in the Top 10 or win Grand Slams anymore, you're not interested. If you do well here, obviously you can play in the Top 10. It's not a question of whether you can or can't; is it that you don't have the dedication to do it anymore?

STEFAN EDBERG: I've been going over this question so many times, why, what, how. Like I said, I make a decision, I stick to it. You can't go on forever. I think in order to play top tennis, you need a lot of dedication. You need a lot of hard work. You can do it for so long. I feel if I would continue to play next year, it's a good chance that I might be back in the Top 10. I don't have any points in the beginning of the year. Still what I'm looking for is winning the big tournaments. Next year it's going to be even harder to win a Grand Slam. If you look at history, not many guys over 30 are going to win Grand Slams today. That's just a fact.

Q. How much of that has to do with being serve and volley? Would you imagine if your game were different, you may have gone on longer?

STEFAN EDBERG: No. I think I've stuck to what I do best, and that's really what you need to do. If I play my game, if I move well on the court, it's still going to take me a long way out there.

Q. I guess what I mean is, if you get older and lose half a step, does it hurt your game more?

STEFAN EDBERG: Yes, it does hurt. If you're one step quicker, you have more time. It does make a difference. That's really the key to everybody's game, is your moving ability, which is still pretty good. The difference is recovering time.

Q. Stefan, the other day when I was watching the Henman-Martin match, John McEnroe was commentating that Henman's backhand looked identical to yours, talked about Henman looking up to you as a player. How do you feel about young players looking up to you as a player?

STEFAN EDBERG: Well, I think it may look like my backhand, but he plays a lot more like Sampras does, a lot more like that. He has a good forehand, likes to run around it. He's what I call a Mini Sampras, but he's one level below as of now.

End of FastScripts...

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